What comes next for MCMC?

BIG RAPIDS — With all the paperwork signed to make the merger official, Mecosta County Medical Center and Spectrum Health leaders are looking ahead at the future of health care in Big Rapids.

The merger becomes effective July 1. Until then, not much will change except the signage in front of the hospital.

In the next few months, hospital officials will begin building relationships between the Big Rapids campus and other hospitals. Beginning in July, the Big Rapids campus will be able to draw on all the resources Spectrum has to offer.

FINALIZED: Pictured (from left to right) are MCMC CEO Sam Daugherty, Mecosta County Commission chair Eric O’Neil, Spectrum Health president and CEO Richard Breon and MCMC board chair Dr. Fred Guenther. (Pioneer photo/Whitney Gronski-Buffa)

“At that point, we can begin to utilize the resources, or as I call it bench strength, of Spectrum on a regular day-to-day basis,” said MCMC CEO Sam Daugherty. “We’ll have better purchasing power, we’ll have access to more specialty physicians, we’ll have access to all their quality endeavors they’re working on from a clinical perspective.”

Spectrum Health representatives might be added to the hospital board, said Richard Breon, Spectrum Health president and CEO. No one will be removed or replaced.

July 1 also will mark the point at which officials can begin working on master site plans and trying to determine what hospital services in Big Rapids will look like in the future. Spectrum’s engineers and architects will begin looking at which buildings need renovation or replacement and if additional buildings should be constructed.

More job opportunities could come to the Big Rapids campus in the near future as well, Daugherty said. Most of that growth comes from expansion of existing services, such as the expansion of Reed City’s cancer treatment center.

“Greenville, Fremont and Reed City all are regional hospitals that have joined the Spectrum family, and today they all have more employees than when they joined,” he said. “We need expanded ear, nose and throat services, expanded neurology services and expanded cardiology services.”

Mecosta County residents will see a drop in their winter tax bill, said Mecosta County Commission chair Eric O’Neil.

“By the time the merger takes place on July 1, we’ll have already issued the tax bills, so there will be a millage on there,” he said. “In December, for the winter tax bills, people will see their tax bill lowered. If everything happens according to plan, Spectrum will pay this off quick enough that next summer’s tax bill … will see a one-time lower levy because there’s about a $400,000 interest payment we won’t have to make.”

In the more distant future, Daugherty hopes to see more collaboration between medical schools and the campus here in Big Rapids. That could take several years and a strategic plan needs to be established before such a collaboration could be facilitated.

In coming year, Spectrum Medical Group also might take over management of Mecosta Health Services.

“Spectrum is not ready to take over rural physician practices yet, so they’ll remain a division of hospital and be managed locally,” said Dr. Fred Guenther, MCMC board chair. “That might happen years down the road.”


Posted by Whitney Gronski-Buffa

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