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Palmetto Health’s boards OK partnership with Tuomey

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Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published Sept. 11, 2015

Palmetto Health and Sumter-based Tuomey Healthcare System announced today that they have moved closer to finalizing their partnership and merging operations by Jan. 1.

The Palmetto Health Board of Directors and Palmetto Health’s two sponsoring boards – the Richland Memorial Hospital Board and the Baptist Healthcare System Board – unanimously voted on Tuesday to make Tuomey a member of Columbia-based health care system.

The decision includes expanding the Palmetto Health board to 19 members from 16. The additional members would be the chair of the Tuomey Board, a physician member of the Tuomey’s medical staff, and one other Tuomey board representative.

Tuesday’s vote also paved the way for leaders from Palmetto Health and Tuomey to reach a binding agreement on or before Oct. 1, with the goal for the partnership to become operational on Jan. 1, according to a statement released today by Palmetto Health.

“This historic combination will bring together two long-standing institutions that share complementary cultures and a focus on delivering outstanding patient care,” said Charles Beaman, CEO of Palmetto Health. “We see our partnership with Tuomey delivering benefits to our respective communities in new ways while reinforcing our commitment to providing high-quality health care to those we serve.”

The two health care systems have been exploring a formal partnership since the announcement in February that the Tuomey board elected to enter into exclusive negotiations with Palmetto Health.

Tuomey, a not-for-profit operator of a 301-bed hospital, was ordered two years ago by a federal judge to pay the government $237 million in damages after the court found that the health care system’s doctors had collected $39.3 million in fraudulent Medicare claims between 2005 and 2009.

In the aftermath of the court ruling, two key executives resigned and Tuomey’s legal counsel withdrew as the system’s representative.

The decision to find a partner in Palmetto Health was made after the Sumter health care system’s board and administrators “completed an exhaustive process to determine the best course of action for the future of Tuomey and health care in the Sumter area. Through this evaluation, Tuomey’s leadership decided partnering with another health system was the best decision for the community,” according to a Tuomey press release.

Michelle Logan-Owens, acting president and CEO of Tuomey, said the Sumter organization is excited about what lies ahead.

“We have a great deal of work ahead of us to meet our target and I have every confidence that our teams will make this happen together,” Logan-Owens said. “Tuomey remains committed to continuing to meet the health care needs of the Sumter community.”

Palmetto Health operates a 1,138-bed system at three hospitals in the Columbia area, providing care for 70% of Richland County residents and more than 55% of the health care for the combined Richland/Lexington county area.

In October 2009, Palmetto Health entered a joint venture with Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center to operate 109-bed Baptist Easley Hospital in Pickens County.

Palmetto Health has is the third largest non-governmental employer in South Carolina with 10,000 employees.

Sumter is about 45 miles east of Columbia.

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