Skyline to Explore Partnership with Larger Health Care System

Skyline Hospital’s Board of Commissioners has okayed the exploration of a possible partnership with a larger health care system. Although no timeline has been established, the exploration could take up to a year. (Submitted photo)

Skyline Hospital CEO Robb Kimmes was recently given the go-ahead by the hospital’s Board of Commissioners to explore a possible partnership with a larger health care system.

“We don’t want to be in the position where Skyline is struggling and forced to make a change,” Kimmes said. “We’re being proactive, seeking a possible partnership on our terms.”

According to Kimmes, it’s harder and harder for independent, small rural hospitals to continue to be successful. And, a partnership with a larger health system would “ensure the long-term sustainability of the hospital.”

“We want to do what’s best for the community. We may go through this process and not find the right partner,” Kimmes said, emphasizing this is an exploration process. “We will be transparent as we can. We are not using a consultant, everything is being done informally.”

“We are invested in our community. Many of the hospital board members are in business here, we have families here and are long-time residents of the communities served by Skyline Hospital,” said Les Dewey, Skyline Hospital’s board of commissioners chairman. “Our long-term goal is to ensure essential local health care services and programs will continue for generations to come. We believe a partnership could give us the best of both worlds: the sustainable infrastructure of a larger health system, paired with the exceptional personal service of a small community hospital.”

To date, Skyline has reached out to a number of health systems in the North-west, of which three have expressed interest.

“This is all Skyline’s decision,” he said. “We have a broad spectrum of potential options to choose. From a loose collaboration to full integration.”

Key areas in which Skyline is focusing include: improving access to local care, offering additional services, improving levels of medical care, and enhancing the number and type of outreach specialists.

“This will give us the ability to continue to upgrade hospital medical facilities and equipment,” Kimmes said, noting that means the continuation of the hospital’s emergency department renovation and expansion.

“With the refinancing of its 2007 bonds, Skyline was able to secure $5 million, which is earmarked for this project (the ER renovation/expansion). The Skyline Foundation has also secured more than $600,000 and when combined with the hospital’s $5 million brings us to 80 percent of the total cost of the project,” Kimmes said. “A possible affiliation does not change the community’s need for an updated facility, nor the project’s scope. Tax support for the hospital district will continue to remain local.”

Although there is no timeline for the partnership process, Kimmes anticipates it may take up to one year. “If both parties decide a partnership is a good fit, we will proceed with formal negotiations,” he said.

Kimmes noted the hospital will seek community input and will hold public forums to answer any questions.

He also stated, at this time, there is no definitive answer to whether employees or jobs would be affected by a partnership.

“Skyline’s leadership is committed to and will be respectful to the needs of its employees,” he said.

Residents with concerns or questions are encouraged to contact either Kimmes or a hospital board member.

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