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Howard Regional board approves letter of intent for affiliation with Community Health Network

For release on January 31, 2012

Kokomo/Indianapolis, IN---James P. Alender, president and CEO of Howard Regional Health System, and Bryan Mills, president and CEO of Community Health Network, announced today that a letter of intent has been signed with respect to a formal affiliation between the two organizations. The signing of this document is a proactive response to dramatic changes pending in the healthcare industry driven by future healthcare reform. It signifies completion of a significant step towards closer alignment and initiates a planning process that will allow Howard Regional Health System, as an affiliate of Community Health Network, to continue as a strong, locally-governed healthcare organization, while serving as a regional medical center for north central Indiana.

“This exciting step toward a strong and vital future for locally-governed healthcare could not have been accomplished without the passionate dedication shown by the board members of both organizations,” Alender said. “Their commitment to solid fact finding, thoughtful strategy review and community benefit resulted in an agreement that seeks to protect current healthcare resources while pursuing many areas of growth. As hospitals continue to face the daunting challenges resulting from healthcare reform and greater than ever demands for medical care, our region is now well positioned for reliable, community-driven healthcare and innovative responses and services.”

“We are thrilled to be working closely with Howard Regional on plans for the system’s affiliation with Community Health Network,” said Mills. “We strongly support the role local hospitals play in delivering convenient and accessible health care to residents in their communities, and we look forward to partnering with Howard Regional on identifying ways to make it easier for patients to get the comprehensive care they need.”

The announcement followed the January 26 meeting of Howard Regional’s Board of Trustees, which voted and approved pursuit of the affiliation. Because Howard Regional is a county hospital, partnering with Community is subject to the approval of the Howard County Council and the Howard County Commissioners.

“While there are still some uncertainties regarding the future of healthcare reform,” Alender said, “we have considered our strategic options and determined that it behooves us to make a timely decision about partnering with an organization that will allow us to continue to fulfill our mission to provide exceptional quality, patient-centered care. Community Health Network, with its compatible mission and values and track record of successful partnership arrangements, is the natural decision for both our hospital and our community at large.”

“In 2010, Howard provided close to $20.5 million in uncompensated and charity care in more than 17,000 hospital visits.” Alender continued. “This is up significantly from prior years. Although healthcare reform initially promised healthcare for all, the details of such a plan have not been finalized. Obviously, with the changing demographics and the challenges of the future for the Kokomo area, it is in our region’s best interest for Howard Regional to be able to maintain care for those who can’t otherwise afford it.”

Details of the letter of intent are based upon continuing to operate a full-service acute care hospital and other healthcare facilities in Howard County. Alender anticipates no disruption of services provided in Kokomo. “As a matter of fact,” Alender explained, “a major advantage of partnering with Community is that we will become a regional medical center. As a regional medical center we can continue, and enhance, our ability to provide specialized medical care locally.

The letter of intent also states that in the future, two-thirds of the Howard Regional Board of Trustees will be residents of Howard and contiguous counties, ensuring continued locally-based governance.

“Affiliation of Howard Regional with Community will provide Howard with access to the Community Health Network programs that an independent, stand-alone hospital could not possibly duplicate,” Alender said. “These include such things as enhanced group purchasing programs, lower-cost capital, health information and technology resources, and enhancements to current evidence-based medicine. Shared services will maximize the value to both organizations,” he added, “and will better position Howard Regional to respond to the regional challenges presented by healthcare reform and other changes in the healthcare industry.”

About Howard Regional Health System
Howard Regional Health System is a regional acute care hospital system comprised of two hospitals on three campuses with a total of 199 beds. Accredited by the Joint Commission, the system provides a broad range of acute care and ancillary services. Its Main Campus is the location of Howard’s acute care hospital, a number of physician offices and an extensive ambulatory surgery center. Howard Regional Health System West Campus Specialty Hospital offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, and the Downtown Campus houses outpatient behavioral health. Howard-affiliated physician offices and specialized clinics are located throughout Howard County as well as in Clinton and Miami counties.

About Community Health Network
Ranked among the nation’s most integrated healthcare systems, Community Health Network is central Indiana’s leader in providing convenient access to exceptional healthcare services, where and when patients need them—in hospitals, health pavilions and doctor’s offices, as well as workplaces, schools and homes. As a non-profit health system with over 100 sites of care and affiliates throughout central Indiana, Community’s full continuum of care integrates hundreds of physicians, specialty and acute care hospitals, surgery centers, home care services, MedChecks, behavioral health and employer health services. To learn more, visit eCommunity.com or call 800-777-7775.


Lynda de Widt, Media Relations
Lynda de Widt
Media Relations