Fletcher Allen Health Care and Central Vermont Medical Center are now subsidiaries of a new parent corporation – Fletcher Allen Partners.
Hospital officials say the “corporate affiliation,” which falls short of a financial merger, will save both nonprofit entities money through better integration of medical care, and centralized purchasing and supply chain management, information technology, finances and human resources. No layoffs are planned; hospital officials said in future there may be savings achieved through attrition. The two hospitals will retain separate management structures and finances.
One of the biggest areas of cost savings will be the elimination of redundant x-rays, EKGs, laboratory tests and scans. When patients are sent from Central Vermont, the state’s third largest hospital, to Fletcher Allen, tests are re-ordered because the two hospitals don’t currently have compatible electronic records systems. Under the “affiliation,” Central Vermont will adopt a new medical record system, which will cost “millions,” and be subject to a certificate of need application with the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, according to CEO Judy Tarr Tartaglia. Those savings will outstrip the cost of the purchase of new software.
Fletcher Allen and Central Vermont will collaborate on specific projects, including a reduction in the re-hospitalizations of patients with congestive heart failure and placement of patients in local intensive care units.
The University of Vermont Medical School, which is part of Fletcher Allen, will expand its training programs to Central Vermont Medical Center under the plan.
The formal corporate “affiliation” of the two hospitals comes at the end of a nine month trial period that included state and federal regulatory reviews. It does not, at least initially, include changes in ownership of existing facilities, or any financial exchange, though the parent organization has retained “approval rights over “significant matters” of each organization such as “budgets, strategic plans, and major financial decisions.”
Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has made implementation of a single-payer style health care system his signature issue, hailed the “affiliation” as a harbinger of more collaboration to come as Vermont’s medical institutions find ways to improve patient care and reduce costs. “I congratulate Fletcher Allen and CV for their vision, their courage and their willingness to put aside turf battles to come together in the interest of Vermonters,” Shumlin said.