MercyOne branding revealed

VDMC?officials discuss benefits of affiliation with health network

Earlier this month, Mercy Health Network rolled out a new branding for Mercy hospitals, medical centers and clinics.

The large health care network is now known as MercyOne. There are 40 hospitals, 420 clinics and related care facilities and 20,000-some health care professionals and staff under the MercyOne umbrella. Hospitals and clinics are adopting the same logo and are modifying their names to reflect the new branding. For example, Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines will now be MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. Likewise, Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo will become MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center.

Van Diest Medical Center has an affiliation agreement with Mercy and will be adding a tagline to the hospital’s logo identifying it as an affiliate of MercyOne.

But the difference is, according to hospital officials, the 25 affiliated hospitals and clinics who contract with MercyOne for management support, like VDMC, will continue to maintain their own local governance and current names.

All Critical Access hospitals in Iowa are required to have an affiliation agreement with a larger hospital as part of a mandate from the Department of Inspections and Appeals.

“We’ve had an agreement of some sort with Mercy Health Network, now MercyOne, since 1986,” VDMC Chief Executive Officer Lisa Ridge said. “Some people don’t realize that we’ve had the relationship for that long.”

The local hospital had three different options to choose from when it came to selecting an affiliation organization — UnityPoint, MercyOne or the University of Iowa Hospitals.

“Truly MercyOne is the right fit for this hospital, not just from the geographic standpoint but for many other reasons. It allows us to retain our identity as a county hospital, governed by our board of trustees, while having the resources we need to continue to thrive.”

Ridge said the arrangement allows for the sharing of best practices, executive and management support and purchasing power.

“MercyOne really respects our history and the needs of the community. We always want to retain our identity in that way, but to have all the support is very, very important,” she said.

Erick Schrier, VDMC Information Systems Director, said network affiliate meetings with other IT directors are a good way to share best practices and to share ideas.

“We also talk about upcoming projects and any opportunities for group purchases,” he said.

The group purchasing power means that VDMC can buy computer equipment, or for that matter, any office or hospital equipment, at greatly reduced cost with network-wide buying power.

He said a business continuity plan was recently developed for Van Diest Medical Center.

“We shared that across the network,” he said. “And others share what they have developed with us.”

Another part of Schrier’s job is compliance and privacy. He said network meetings help share updates and new regulations.

“It’s a challenge to stay on top of compliance and privacy issues. The network is a great resource to have,” said Lori Foster, director of public relations and marketing.

“And sharing best practices means each individual hospital doesn’t have to find out the information on their own,” said Chief Executive Officer Lisa Ridge.

“When you’re a small Critical Access hospital, sometimes you wear many hats,” she continued. “And to be able to network and have those resources at a system level is just a more efficient way to run the smaller hospitals.”

Schrier said the affiliation provides the opportunity to have some commonality between the hospitals.

“If we have like infrastructure in place, then we can look into resource sharing,” he said, adding that it can be difficult to recruit talent to rural hospitals.

“So, if we have great talent spread throughout the state, we can leverage that in the network to help share the talent and spread the good throughout,” he said.

Patients visiting the emergency room may likely meet Roshan Sinha, M.D. The physician provides care in the ER as well as seeing patients that are admitted to the hospital.

Sinha came to VDMC after graduating from Mercy in Des Moines.

“We were so thankful that we were affiliated because it was a great way to recruit him,” said Ridge. Sinha said the fact that VDMC and MercyOne use the same electronic medical records system was helpful when he joined the staff.

“I was able to get a running start,” he said.

Sinha said the arrangement between VDMC and MercyOne is a good relationship to have.

“We can share evidence-based order sets from the bigger hospitals for say, pneumonia. What are first line treatments, what are second line treatments, etc. We’ve started to implement some of those order sets to keep more consistent here between providers.”

The relationship with MercyOne also allows the local hospital to access the vast number of specialists available throughout the network.

“If we have a patient that needs a higher level of care, we can send them to Mercy in a much easier manner than with a non-affiliate hospital,” he said. “That’s because so much of the information is integrated in.”

He added that if a critical patient needs to be transferred, the affiliation allows that transfer to begin much more quickly and smoothly.

Sinha said the radiologists through MercyOne also provide readings and opinions more quickly.

“With the specialists and radiology, it’s helpful that those bridges are already built,” he said.

Taylor Peterson, a member of the VDMC board of trustees, attended the brand launching in Des Moines earlier this month.

“I left there feeling excited for the future of MercyOne and the future of Van Diest Medical Center,” she said. “I think the community should know about the tremendous benefit we receive from MercyOne.”

Peterson said she was pleased with the respect MercyOne has for the local hospital.

“We have our local leadership. We can really serve the community how it wants to be served, but we still have access to all of those resources we need to do that,” she said.