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FEATURE


“In the beginning, we met weekly to discuss every detail about the ASC and partnership,” Ertel says. “This included more formally establishing the rela- tionship. It also included identifying the services that the ASC could receive from the hospital and what that service delivery would look like.” Open lines of communication lead-


ing up to and in the early days of a joint venture help a partnership start on a solid footing, says Kelly Fitz- patrick, RN, director of joint venture operations for Northwell Health, head- quartered in New Hyde Park, New York, and a former ASC administra- tive director. “You want that transpar- ency from the get-go. Everyone should be on the same page about the goals for the ASC and its partners.”


How to Make Physician-Hospital ASC Joint Ventures Work


Give equal importance to both short- and long-term goals BY ROBERT KURTZ


I


n early 2004, a group of sur- geons operating at The Reading Hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania, approached hospital leadership with a proposal: partner on an ASC. Before year’s end, an outpatient department located a few miles from the hospi- tal had been converted into a surgery center with ownership split between the physicians and the hospital. Thus, The Reading Hospital SurgiCenter at Spring Ridge in Wyomissing, Penn- sylvania, was formed. Over the last 17 years, Pamela Ertel, RN, CASC, has served as the ASC’s executive director. The work that went


LEARN MORE IN ASCA 2021 SESSION


Attend the advanced session “Is a Hospital Joint Venture Right for Your ASC?” The ASCA 2021 Virtual Conference is available on demand.


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into planning the joint venture ASC, she recalls, was pivotal for creating a foundation for success. The process was largely led by a board comprising five potential physician owners and five hospital representatives.


16 ASC FOCUS JUNE/JULY 2021 | ascfocus.org


Donna St. Louis, vice president of business development for BayCare Health System in Tampa Bay, Florida, says she looks for a specific quality in surgeons who are courted as joint ven- ture ASC partners. “I try to ensure that they will be ‘true-blue’ to us and not invest in multiple centers. If a surgeon is only partnered with us, they are more likely to be engaged in the day-to-day operation of the center.”


That commitment, St. Louis says, should be recognized and recipro- cated by the hospital. “Transparency is so important to physicians. From the start, give the partners access to the ASC’s financial statements. Make sure everything is on the books so sur- geons can see what they are paying for, what revenue is and what distri- butions they will receive.”


Best Interests of All Partners To achieve and then sustain the suc- cess of a joint-venture ASC, decisions should be made that will help the ASC and its partners thrive, says Vinson Var- ghese, Northwell Health’s vice pres- ident of joint venture operations. “We are moving some of our total joints from our hospitals into our ASCs. In the short term, there might be a loss felt by


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