The two organizations, as well as Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, have agreed to a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides a framework for the operational changes. The goal is to finalize the corresponding legal documents by year-end and then to complete construction of the new hospital over the following three years.
The North Lincoln Health District was formed in 1967, with its primary responsibility being the ownership and operation of the local hospital. In 2001, the District entered into a 30-year affiliation agreement with Samaritan in which the District continued to own the hospital and adjacent properties and Samaritan assumed responsibility for day-to-day operation of the hospital and related physician and outpatient clinics.
The current MOU would take the relationship a step further, with the District transferring the ownership of the hospital facilities and real properties to Samaritan.
In turn, Samaritan would construct a new critical access hospital on the current hospital campus. Critical access hospitals are typically located in small, rural communities and consist of no more than 25 inpatient beds.
The MOU states that the Health District, and its publicly-elected board, would continue to function and that District residents would continue to pay property taxes to help support the hospital’s ongoing operation, District Board Chair Terry Buggenhagen said.
“This plan ensures that community members will benefit from a much-needed new hospital, and that we can continue to involve local residents in the ongoing decision-making concerning the hospital,” Buggenhagen said. “We are fortunate to have a partner like Samaritan who is willing and able to make such a significant investment in our community.”
Samaritan President/CEO Larry Mullins said North Lincoln’s recently-completed facilities assessment made it clear that a new hospital was essential to ensure that local residents could continue to access vital health services in their community.
“We now have the opportunity to build a critical access hospital that reflects the most current thinking about which services are most needed and to organize them in a way that is most convenient for patients and optimally efficient for providers and staff,” Mullins said.
Toward that end, hospital Chief Operating Officer Lesley Ogden, M.D. has visited several recently-completed critical access hospitals to help inform planning for the new facility in Lincoln City.
“The hospitals I’ve visited are models of innovation and effective space planning,” Ogden said. “Spaces are designed for maximum flexibility and are focused on outpatient care and the appropriate integration of technology. We are very excited to begin planning for bringing these best practices to our local community.”