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Three Rivers Health to add medical services, upgrade facilities under new partnership with Indiana health system COURTESY PHOTO

Three Rivers Health to add medical services, upgrade facilities under new partnership with Indiana health system

BY Monday, October 04, 2021 04:48pm

THREE RIVERS — Becoming part of a much larger health system in Indiana should give Three Rivers Health greater ability to grow, add medical services and upgrade facilities, health system officials announced today.

Three Rivers Health finalized an agreement on Oct. 1 with Granger, Ind.-based Beacon Health System Inc. 

The now eight-hospital Beacon Health System offers Three Rivers access to expanded care, especially medical specialties, and capital for investments in facilities. As part of the deal, Beacon Health System committed to investing $20 million in Three Rivers Health over five years to improve facilities and drive growth.

As a small, rural community health system, Three Rivers has lacked the financial ability to upgrade facilities. The health system instead has had to focus on keeping equipment up to date and on staffing, President and CEO David Shannon told MiBiz.

“We were never able to really invest in the buildings,” Shannon said. “We just also felt that we weren’t really in a position to go out and grow our services on our own. That’s really the big thing. How do you provide services to your community that it needs when you don’t really have the investments to make that happen? That’s what Beacon Health is going to bring to us.”

“I think it’s going to be good for both organizations when we’re all done,” he added.

Three Rivers Health consists of a 60-bed acute care medical center, plus 16 clinics in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties, and a workforce of about 550 people. The health system recorded $169.1 million in patient revenues in 2020 with net income of nearly $2.1 million, according to the American Hospital Directory.

Under terms of the agreement with Beacon, Three Rivers Health retains a local board of directors that will consist primarily of local representatives for five years, Shannon said.

Beacon Health includes five acute care hospitals in northern Indiana, plus its Children’s Hospital and the inpatient psychiatric Epworth Hospital that are both in South Bend. The health system employs more than 7,400 people and 1,100 physicians, and is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

“We are extremely proud to partner with Three Rivers Health, an organization that shares our vision, values and unwavering commitment to providing high quality, compassionate care to members of our communities,” Beacon Health CEO Kreg Gruber said in a statement. “This partnership allows us to expand services in Michigan and offer patients more convenient access to care, closer to where they live. Working together, our collective teams will continue growing and strengthening healthcare services in the region for many years to come.”

With a finalized deal, the two health systems can now examine where to make facility upgrades and craft options to expand medical services at Three Rivers Health, located about 30 miles north of the Michigan-Indiana border. 

Shannon cites increased access to mental health care and obstetrics and gynecology as just two areas where Three Rivers Health needs improved access.

Beacon’s children’s and psychiatric hospitals “open up a whole new area where we can transfer patients that need those services that are hard to find,” Shannon said.

“We don’t really have that option around here,” he said.

As well, becoming part of Beacon opens the potential to share medical specialists and nursing staffs to address talent shortages, Shannon said.

Beacon Health also has a medical office in Edwardsburg, just north of the border in Cass County, and 8 to 10 percent of its business comes from Michigan, Shannon said.

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