An agreement between Columbia Memorial Health (CMH) and Albany Medical Center (AMC) has received preliminary state approval, moving Columbia and Greene counties one step closer to a more efficient healthcare system and improved access to specialty care.
The Establishment Committee of the state Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) approved the agreement on Thursday, Sept. 24 at a meeting in New York City. The full PHHPC is expected to take up the measure for final approval on Thursday, Oct. 8.
Under the agreement, CMH will:
• Maintain its own corporate identity.
• Maintain its own Board of Trustees.
• Maintain its own management structure, executives, directors, managers and supervisors.
• Maintain its own medical staff leadership, medical staff, and medical staff bylaws.
• Maintain its own Foundation with its specific Board, and continue to raise funds to be used solely for CMH.
• Maintain its own employees, continue to determine its own salary and benefit structure, maintain its own employment policies, and negotiate and continue to maintain its union contracts.
By integrating clinical and administrative functions, the affiliation will provide improved collaboration on strategic health care planning in the region, and more coordinated access to specialized care for more patients.
“This agreement is truly unique,” said CMH President and CEO Jay P. Cahalan. “It’s not a merger or consolidation. It’s not a sale, and it’s not an acquisition or a takeover. It’s most accurately described as an affiliation of our respective organizations that allows us to take advantage of one another’s strengths. And what it will mean to our communities is a local healthcare delivery system that will be more efficient and easier for patients to navigate.”
Under the agreement, each organization will be represented on one another’s Boards. The CMH Board of Trustees will continue to recruit and select its own Board members, who would then be approved by both Boards. And both Boards would have to approve CMH’s annual budget.
Mr. Cahalan noted that CMH’s 2014 financial performance was its strongest in the last five years, generating an overall positive net margin, an increasingly rare achievement for a stand-alone, not-for-profit health system in New York State.
“CMH is a strong organization on its own, but even the strongest players in the industry have recognized the advantages of partnership,” Mr. Cahalan said, noting the recent partnerships of several Capital Region hospitals and numerous affiliations among healthcare organizations across the state and nation.
“The entire healthcare industry is being transformed. We believe this agreement strengthens CMH’s ability to continue to thrive within this ever-changing environment,” Mr. Cahalan said.