The urge to merge hits hospitals

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Hello everyone

A wave of consolidation is being felt within Delaware and Maryland hospital systems.

A textbook example is a pending merger between Salisbury’s Peninsula and Seaford’s Nanticoke Health Services.

Nanticoke needed a partner as Bayhealth and Beebe undertake big expansion projects in Milford and Coastal Sussex. Bayhealth is also moving into Beebe’s turf.

Both Beebe and Bayhealth came up with competing proposals for a free-standing emergency center on the edge of coastal Sussex. State health regulators said no, citing the high costs of using an emergency room as a point of entry into the healthcare system

Peninsula already has a presence in western Sussex County.

Peninsula is also feeling the heat from the University of Maryland Medical System, which has added hospitals on the Eastern Shore. In addition to Nanticoke, Peninsula is acquiring a rural hospital on the Eastern Shore.

The University of Maryland Medical System is making an aggressive move to the north with plans to build the long-discussed Upper Chesapeake hospital in Harford County.

The expansion was one of the factors that led the parent of Elkton’s Union Hospital to enter into merger talks with Christiana Care, Delaware’s largest hospital system.

Union had earlier announced a proposed merger with a Baltimore-area hospital system. That deal fell through, due to the complexities of reimbursements in Maryland’s health care system.

The urge to merge will continue, due to continuing cost pressures facing hospital systems.

Meanwhile, Christiana Care is moving away from fees for services to outcomes-based payments, a dramatic change loaded with uncertainties.

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