Area hospitals, OSU announce partnership

WHEELING – Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital on Thursday announced a partnership with the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University to offer more close-to-home specialized care options for area cancer, heart and diabetes patients and more.

Under the affiliation agreement between Wexner and the local hospitals’ parent company, Ohio Valley Health Services and Education Corp., the hospitals will work together to serve patients in the Ohio Valley who normally would have to travel to Columbus to receive highly specialized care at Ohio State.

The hospitals also see the agreement as an opportunity to expand medical research and education opportunities in the Ohio Valley.

Representatives from the organizations emphasized shared culture as a critical component of the decision to collaborate.

“We have truly built a strong relationship over the past year and a half with their team,” said Michael Caruso, president and CEO of OVHS&E, noting the company’s board of directors assembled a team in 2011 to seek strategic partners in health care.

“It was very clear from our first meetings that our cultures were aligned. If that were not the case, we would not be here today to make this announcement,” said Dr. Steven Gabbe, senior vice president of health sciences and CEO of Wexner Medical Center.

Areas of collaboration being discussed include cancer, heart and vascular care, neurosurgery, telemedicine, urology, diabetes management and community wellness programs. OVMC and EORH also could serve as clinical rotation sites for Ohio State medical students, and local residents could have expanded opportunities to participate in clinical trials through the partnership.

Jerry Narcisi, chairman of the OVHS&E board of directors, added the company’s financial condition is much improved. Working with Ohio State, the company hopes to increase efficiency and cut costs through shared electronic health records, group purchasing programs and other services.

The hospitals also will form an advisory council to set overall strategic goals, facilitate plans and identify opportunities for both hospital systems.