The Greenville Health System Board of Trustees reviewed a master affiliation agreement and lease today as part of a proposed restructuring model that would give GHS the flexibility and strength it needs to ensure quality patient care and continue succeeding in the rapidly changing healthcare climate. The board gave preliminary approval to some contractual arrangements of the proposed plan but cautioned that much more work needs to be done.
“Due diligence requires that we continue to explore models and, as we did today, hammer out preliminary details as the plan continues to develop,” said Board Chairman Jim Morton. “This is an on-going process. We look forward to continuing our discussions with our own board and receiving input from the medical affairs committee of the Legislative Delegation of what we can do to strengthen the delivery of quality health care in the Upstate.”
A suit asking whether the GHS Board of Trustees has the legal authority to change its governance model was submitted to the S.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 29. Morton said the board would not vote on a final restructuring plan while there is a pending action in the Supreme Court and that he hoped a Supreme Court decision would provide clarity.
The proposed plan would give GHS the flexibility to explore partnerships with other governmental, not-for-profit and for-profit entities as part of a private not-for-profit group, while still ensuring that the safety net tradition continues in the community.
Under the proposed plan, GHS will create a multi-regional healthcare system governed by a newly created private, not-for-profit entity that would coordinate activities and provide strategic oversight for the multi-regional health system. Services would be provided through locally governed, affiliate organizations. The entity, which would lease the GHS assets, would be the first affiliate entity under the multi-regional system; each affiliate would be organized as a non-profit organization and 501 (c) (3) public charity.
The proposed new system will continue the charitable missions of the parties; develop services that will improve access to comprehensive, convenient high-quality inpatient and outpatient health care; promote community health and well-being through patient care, wellness, research, education and population health efforts; build the medical community; enhance sound stewardship through more efficient delivery of services and quality of patient care; and enhance community benefit and patient value.
The proposed master affiliation agreement calls for publically available reports in areas such as the following: audited financials of the system; reports reflecting the quality, safety and patient satisfaction delivered by the system; community needs assessment reports and community benefit reports.
The preliminary lease document explicitly provides for the ongoing involvement of GHS, which shall remain a governmental public body and oversee all requirements of Act 432, in shaping and overseeing the future of healthcare services within the community.
Initially, board members of the strategic coordinating organization and the Upstate affiliate will be selected by GHS. The master affiliation agreement calls for these boards initially to have 6 to 15 directors.
“The proposed new structure will help us ensure that health care in the Upstate remains local, accessible and high quality in the years to come,” said GHS President and CEO Mike Riordan. “At the end of the day, our mission has always been – and will always be – to improve the health of our communities. This proposed multi-regional system will benefit residents by giving them increased access to integrated primary and specialty medical and surgical services.”
Changing the GHS governance structure is about leadership and strategy alignment, said Riordan. The day-to-day work of employees will continue as it is today, and patients will not notice a change other than enhanced care.
“Our goal is to provide the best quality health care to this market, and we believe changing our governance structure will allow us to do that,” said Riordan. “We are also committed to providing care to patients regardless of their ability to pay and maintaining our tradition as an Academic Medical Center. GHS began training nurses three days after we opened our doors, and we will continue to train the next generations of physicians, nurses and other providers.”