WYOMING -- Following the trend toward consolidation in health care, Wyoming, Mich.-based Metro Health is looking for a partner that could give it the size and capital needed to better compete during an era of rapid change in the industry brought on by reforms.
Metro Health President and CEO Mike Faas says the hospital “is not for sale,” but adds the search could very well end in a joint venture, taking on an equity investor, or entering into a merger with another health system.
“At this point, I’d say we’re pretty wide open to any possibility,” Faas said. “We are not going to leave any stone unturned.”
An outright acquisition of Metro, however, is “not where we’re starting,” Faas said. “Even though that’s not the original intent, I don’t think anything is out of the question in terms of that word ‘partner.’”
As with other hospitals that have sought a partner or suitor, most recently Memorial Medical Center in Ludington, Metro seeks a partner as care providers face tightening reimbursements, especially form Medicare and Medicaid, and reforms in the payment system.
Metro plans to retain a consultant that will approach and review potential partners. The Wyoming-based health system prefers to find a “like-minded partner that is willing to push the envelope a little bit and position us just to do a lot of the things that at this point we are either not big enough or don’t have enough wealth to do on our own.”
Any partner would have to allow for a high degree of local autonomy and favor collaboration with other care providers, said Faas (pictured right). He notes Metro’s involvement with Trinity Health and the University of Michigan Health System in Pennant Health Alliance, a two-year-old consortium for joint purchasing of equipment and supplies and sharing best clinical practices.
Metro is also a 50-50 partner with U of M Health System formed in 2008 on a cancer treatment center in Wyoming.
Both U of M and Trinity Health – which a decade ago put an offer on the table to acquire Metro – are possibilities to pursue, as is Borgess Health in Kalamazoo, Faas said. Metro also talked with Borgess 10 years ago about a possible merger.
Flint-based McLaren Health is also a possibility. The two health systems have talked in the past about doing business together, Faas said.
“We want to have a conversation with them,” Faas said of McLaren.
The health system begins the process of searching for a partner while it finances remain in good shape, board Chairman Doyle Hayes said
“Our cash position is the best it’s been in years and our partnership with other health care institutions have proven to be beneficial endeavors,” Hayes said. “This is the next step in our work.”
Faas said Metro directors would like to complete the process within 12 months and “have a partner in place and be underway.”