A partnership of two mid-Missouri hospitals could produce a top medical complex in the state.

Image courtesy of KSSZ

The Board of Trustees at Boone Hospital in Columbia recently agreed to discuss aligning with nearby University of Missouri (MU) Health Care.

The UM facility is one of 12 Level One Trauma Centers in the state.  The other Level One Center’s are concentrated in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas while two of them are in Springfield.

Boone Hospital Trustees Chairman Brian Neuner thinks an alignment with UM Health Care would allow the combined operation to compete on a statewide level to provide services.

“If this becomes reality, we’re going to be in the position to compete against the larger markets” said Neuner.  “We can start focusing on growing the hospital, growing our sub-specialties.”

Any agreement between the two hospitals would take effect at the end of 2020, when Boone’s lease agreement with St. Louis-based BJC HealthCare expires. A decision will have to be made by the end of 2018.

Neuner says Boone Hospital serves 26 counties while MU Health Care serves 28.  He thinks a collaboration of the two facilities could provide more specialized care so patients wouldn’t be leaving the region for treatment.

“Dr. Patrick Delafontaine, who’s the Dean of the Medical School at MU, he was talking about bone marrow transplants and how people are leaving our market area because they can’t get that here in central Missouri.  What if we could build that area.”

An alignment of the two hospitals would dovetail other statewide concerns UM Health Care is involved in.  The facility recently opened the $42 million Patient-Centered Care Learning Center to address a severe physician shortage across Missouri.

UM Health Care has shown interest in further exploring a collaboration of the two operations.

UM spokeswoman Mary Jenkins Told the Columbia Missourian “University of Missouri Health Care is an academic health center, and as an academic health center we have a mission of advancing the health of all Missourians.  So, our goal in collaborating with Boone Hospital Center would be to advance the health of our community and the patients we serve.”

The University of Missouri consolidated its health care units in 2008.  The reorganization created the current MU Health System, which includes MU Health Care as well as MU School of Medicine and its University Physicians practice plan, MU Sinclair School of Nursing and MU School of Health Professions.

Boone Hospital Trustee Neuner says collaborating with MU Health Care and all the resources it offers, would help both facilities adjust to the changing landscape of health care.

“We’ve seen a lot of things happen in the last 10 years.  The Affordable Care Act, reimbursements, the exchange.  Those are factors that have changed.”

Boone Hospital Trustees also are considering partnerships with other providers.  Those include Kansas-based St. Luke’s Hospital and Duke LifePoint Health Care, a for-profit company in Brentwood, Tennessee.

The trustees could also make Boone Hospital a separate operation managed by a new not-for-profit organization.

Missoutinet affiliate KSSZ contributed to this story