GRAND HAVEN — A deal for North Ottawa Community Health System’s medical group raises Mercy Health’s presence in the growing Ottawa County market where it’s been investing for a few years.
In transitioning to Mercy Health Physician Partners, the 20 physicians and advanced care providers who were previously employed by the North Ottawa Medical Group became part of a much-larger organization that now has a greater ability to invest in the market and grow.
“We’re hoping it opens up the resources and the ability to do more with what we have,” said Dr. Haney Assaad, vice president of medical affairs for North Ottawa Community Health System and a practicing internist.
Under a deal the two health systems describe as a “transition,” Mercy Health also acquired North Ottawa Medical Group’s hard assets — such as medical equipment and furnishings — and now rents office space at North Ottawa facilities.
Care providers who transitioned to Mercy Health continue to practice at their existing offices.
Financial terms of the deal were undisclosed.
The deal builds on a 2016 clinical affiliation agreement between North Ottawa and Mercy Health, which subsequently expanded specialty medical services such as cardiology and neurology into the Grand Haven area at North Ottawa’s hospital campus. Mercy Health separately opened a primary care practice on Holland’s north side three years ago, and operates a primary practice in Spring Lake where North Ottawa provides a diagnostics lab.
Mercy Health presently is developing a new primary care and outpatient center in Hudsonville that it expects to open this fall. The Hudsonville site is located across the street from a Metro Health primary care office, as well as from a new Meijer Inc. store where Spectrum Health last month opened a walk-in medical clinic.
Now that it’s operating with a larger primary care base in the market following the deal with North Ottawa, Mercy Health intends to evaluate what additional medical services are needed in the Grand Haven area that it can provide.
“This is a market where we’ve been trying to have a deeper presence,” said Mary Boyd, vice president of integration at Mercy Health.
“We want a deeper penetration in Ottawa County. It makes sense to do that with a practice that has a long history,” Boyd said. “We plan to assess the needs and fill voids that are evident in the community.”
FOCUS ON THE CORE
The deal involving the medical group allows North Ottawa Health System to focus on the core function of running and investing in the community hospital and related services, said North Ottawa President and CEO Shelleye Yaklin.
She cited reimbursement pressures from health insurers and the need to gather and report quality data — which insurers more frequently use to base payments on these days — as being among the difficulties of running and investing in a small medical group.
“The resources to support (the North Ottawa Medical Group) under the old model was significant to us,” she said. “Every year, it’s becoming more and more complex for us to keep up with that. We don’t want to get behind the curve.”
Mercy Health Physician Partners, which has about 800 care providers across the region, is “a pretty exceptional physician group” that has the scale, administrative structure, expertise and resources needed to support and grow the practice in northwestern Ottawa County, she said.
Mercy and North Ottawa will continue to collaborate on medical care in the market, just as they have been under the 2016 clinical affiliation.
“They can help move us to the next level,” Yaklin said.
The deal to transition care providers from North Ottawa Medical Group to Mercy Health Physician Partners stemmed from an ongoing dialogue between the two heath systems. As they looked at greater collaboration, their conversations eventually led to bringing the medical groups together.
According to Dr. Assad, moving North Ottawa’s employed physicians to Mercy Health Partners brings one immediate benefit: As part of a larger group, he now has a broader network to tap when needed to consult with specialists for a patient’s treatment.
When practicing in a smaller medical group, “my choices were limited to this community,” he said.
“What I’d definitely like is more resources to come out here,” he said.