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Marquette County’s Two Hospitals Announce Plan to Form Strategic Partnership to Benefit Patients and the Economy

January 29, 2010


o (Left) State Senate Democratic Leader Mike Prusi (D-Ishpeming) and (right) Marquette General Health System (MGHS) President and CEO Gary Muller.

MARQUETTE, Mich. —Marquette County’s two hospitals today announced their intention to form a strategic partnership that will support and create health care jobs, improve the quality and efficiency of care, and increase access to important medical treatments and services in the local area and entire Upper Peninsula, as well as prepare for health care reform.

Bell Hospital and Marquette General Hospital (MGH) have executed a letter of intent to form Superior Health Partners, new health care delivery system. The partnership is not a merger of the hospitals or a purchase of one by the other. Both hospitals are financially strong, will remain independent but strategically aligned.

By combining the resources and management talent of Bell and MGH (and future hospital partners), Superior Health Partners will focus on enhancing high quality health care services and medical treatments delivered in Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula. The new healthcare delivery system will emphasize high quality that will encourage more people to receive care close to home. When residents must travel long distances for care, it is inconvenient, expensive and hard on patients and their families.

“When local residents travel outside the U.P. for medical care, it’s expensive and inconvenient for them and jobs and dollars go with them, often to other states,” said MGH CEO Gary Muller. “We know about $100 million a year leaves the U.P. with patients who seek care elsewhere. Superior Health Partners will address why people travel outside the region for medical care with the goal of improving access and options for Marquette County and U.P. residents.”

Bell Hospital CEO Rick Ament said improving the ability of local residents to stay closer to home for their healthcare will significantly boost access to important medical services for patients and generate more direct and indirect healthcare jobs for Marquette County and the entire Upper Peninsula.

o (left) Marquette General Health System Board Chairman Tim Larson and (right) Bell Hospital Board Member Ron Katers.

“By increasing access to high quality medical care in the county, the partnership will create more healthcare jobs and stop the drain on the region’s economy from healthcare dollars and jobs going to other states,” Ament said. “This is not about two hospitals merging or one buying the other. It’s about making two strong hospitals stronger to the benefit of our patients and the local economy.”

In addition to creating more jobs and improving access to health care services, Superior Health Partners would be committed to achieving a new standard for high quality patient care in the U.P. and state. The two partners have committed to achieving:

  • Superior patient satisfaction by placing in the top 1 percent in the nation in patient satisfaction,
  • Superior health care quality and efficiency by participating in MHA Keystone Center for Patient Safety & Quality initiatives, and meeting national clinical outcome benchmarks.

Superior Health Partners will create a health care delivery system capable of meeting future healthcare reform standards, which likely will focus on reducing costs while maintaining high quality. Medicare and private payers are moving toward a model called an Accountable Care Organization for accomplishing “value based healthcare.” The ACO model relies on partnerships of healthcare providers to reduce healthcare costs while maintaining or improving quality of care. Successful ACOs will be rewarded financially, providing resources to invest in technology, jobs and other improvements in patient care.  Superior Health Partners will assemble the components to build an ACO that could serve the entire Upper Peninsula.

The Bell and MGH boards of directors and senior managers have been discussing forming Superior Health Partners for several months, signaling a new level of cooperation between two of the county’s most important employers and healthcare providers.

o Operation Action U.P. Board Member Don Ryan and MGHS President and CEO Gary Muller.

“MGH and Bell will achieve superior quality and efficiency by cooperating at unprecedented levels and by supporting enhanced cooperation among other communities, hospitals and physicians across the U.P.,” Muller said.

Other hospitals that may be interested in working together as part of Superior Health Partners in the future would share in the commitment to superior levels of healthcare quality and efficiency.

Ament and Muller have been briefing community leaders, U.P. hospital CEOs and their hospital physicians and staffs about the partnership. By early next week, a new Web site will be “live” on the Internet with detailed information about Superior Health Partners. The site,, will provide answers to important questions about the partnership, give visitors space to ask questions, and provide additional information and future updates about Superior Health Partners.

Additional details will be released as Superior Health Partners continues to evolve.

o (Left) Operation Action U.P. Co-Chair John Marshall and (right) MGHS Board Chairman Tim Larson.



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