Section: News

Three Health Systems Form Regional Alliance to Enhance Care, Benefit Communities


Jacksonville, Fla., October 6, 2015 - Collaborating to better serve patients, Baptist Health, Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System have formed a regional alliance called Coastal Community Health. The three systems have a history of mutual support and cooperation and believe that by sharing best practices and achieving efficiencies of scale, they can deliver superior quality, health and value for their respective communities.

"This is a very important affiliation and an opportunity to position ourselves to thrive in the future as a highly integrated network of community-based, locally governed health systems," said Hugh Greene, CEO of Baptist Health. "Together, we believe we can expand access to health care services in our regions and further our mission to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve. That community focus is our common core."

The three health systems serve separate but contiguous markets spanning from Brunswick to Jacksonville to St. Augustine and will continue to operate independently as locally governed, community-focused health systems. Baptist Health President and CEO Hugh Greene will serve as initial CEO of Coastal Community Health. Joe Gordy and Michael Scherneck will serve as executive vice presidents of Coastal. All three will maintain their roles as CEOs of their respective health systems.

"Flagler Hospital was founded more than 126 years ago to care for the families of our community - and that purpose has never wavered," commented Joe Gordy, CEO of Flagler Hospital. "We believe in the value of community-based care and are pleased to affiliate with two health systems that share our commitment. Through collaboration, we can enrich our programs and service offerings while also achieving enhanced value for area residents and employers."

The Coastal Board of Directors is comprised of 12 members – three each from Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System and six from Baptist Health. The board chair for the initial three-year term is H. Clark Alger from Flagler Hospital's Board, who retired as executive vice president of operations for Delta Airlines after a successful 32-year career. The vice chair is Michael D. Hodges from Southeast Georgia Health System, Inc. Board, who currently serves as market president and director of Ameris Bank in Brunswick.

In a time when many people are faced with high deductibles and employers are struggling with increasing health care costs, it is the responsibility of our health systems to lower costs, while at the same time, continuing to provide the highest quality care to the communities served. Understanding that the best way to reduce costs is to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital, several key initiatives of Coastal Community Health will focus on wellness, patient education, chronic disease management and care coordination.

To drive measurable improvements, a dozen collaborative workgroups comprised of leadership from each of the three health systems are looking at various initiatives to benefit adults and children in the communities served. Some include:

Enhancing child health services: The Players' Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville is expanding into Georgia, bringing child health education and safety promotion programs. In 2016, these programs will start expanding into St. Augustine and the reminder of St. Johns County.

Tele-health for adults and children: Expand availability of tele-health consultations from Jacksonville pediatric specialists to St. Augustine, Brunswick and Camden County in the next six to nine months. In addition, connect clinical care teams across the three health systems for select specialties such as endovascular neurosurgery. The team's goal is to provide real-time tele-neurology consults in first quarter of 2016, and add an additional specialty consult six months later.

Disaster planning: The Coastal Disaster Planning and Mutual Aid Workgroup has prepared a Mutual Aid and Transfer Agreement in the event of a disaster such as a hurricane. Joint exercises across the three health systems will also be conducted and joint FEMA training.

Closing gaps in care: Care coordination for patients will be enhanced with the Patient Education and Engagement Workgroup looking at collaborations. Community Health Needs Assessments will also be evaluated to address the vital health needs in our communities.

The leadership teams from each health system are currently engaged in a collective strategic planning initiative, led by the Coastal Community Health Board of Directors, to help prioritize initiatives and set achievable targets for the affiliation's first five years.