The future of Ransom Memorial Health looks much healthier with the possibility of affiliating with Adventist Health System, the parent company of Shawnee Mission Health.

Matt Heyn, President/CEO of Ransom Memorial Health, announced Wednesday the RMH board of trustees signed a letter of intent to affiliate with AHS, but there is a 120-day due diligence period to give each party time to ensure the affiliation is in their best interest. If the agreement is approved, RMH becomes part of the AHS family in early 2019.

AHS, headquartered in Florida, is a connected network of care with nearly 50 hospital campuses and hundreds of care sites in almost a dozen states. The Mid-America region consists of providers in Wisconsin and Kansas, including Shawnee Mission Health.

“As a community hospital, it is essential that we unite with another community-focused organization to continue providing remarkable care to Franklin County and the surrounding areas,” Heyn said. “We’ve partnered with Shawnee Mission Health for the last few years regionally, and their commitment to quality with the support and resources of a national health system is what will allow us to continue improving the health of our communities.”

Heyn reiterated that RMH, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa, was not being sold to another healthcare organization.

“The ownership is still with the county,” he said. “What we have done in a very thoughtful manner over the last almost 12 months have worked with third-party experts — leaders in the health care industry — to understand how healthcare is evolving. We can be in the cutting edge of evolution, so we are not left in the dust. We are not left as a hospital scrambling in the 11th-and-a-half hour to keep our doors open and provide remarkable care.”

The letter of intent is a document that states how the entities would work together. Heyn said under the agreement the Franklin County board of Commissioners will lease the hospital to the hospital’s board of trustees. That board will execute a sub-lease with Adventist Health System to manage the operations and gain the efficiencies RMH otherwise could not gain as a independent hospital.

“We want to remain majority local control,” Heyn said. “The county sales tax will be left in control with the RMH board. This was part of the deal. We are forcing all those dollars to be reinvested in this community.”

AHS officials felt RMH was the right entity to form a partnership.

“We look forward to this next level of partnership with Ransom Memorial Health,” Sam Huenergardt, President/CEO of the Mid-America Region of Adventist Health System and Shawnee Mission Health, said. “Together, we will continue to extend the healing ministry of Christ by providing whole-person care to the Ottawa and Franklin County communities.”

Janet Peters, RMH board president, said the partnership will benefit the communities and patients we jointly served and better position us for the future.

“They feel like this is an extension of their mission by coming to Ottawa and Franklin County, in a market otherwise don’t have very little penetration,” Heyn said.

He said being part of a health system will provide many benefits. Those include:

• Will be part of a national health system of more than 80,000 team members providing whole person, faith-based care.

• Will have access to increased capital — minimum $10 million infusion the next five years.

• Will benefit from economies of scale to provide lower cost of care.

• Will have access to analytics to improve patient experience and quality.

• Will implement state-of-the-art information technology platform.

“By being part of a 50 hospital health system we can purchase goods at a lower cost,” Heyn said. “We can provide lower cost care. We can access software, data bases, best practices, analytical tools to help us more efficiently and effectively take care of our patients. We are going to be able to implement a state of the art electronic health record that will allow for better continuity of patients.”

RMH and Shawnee Mission Health have teamed together since 2015.

“We worked with them the last four years to bring in board certified emergency medicine physicians, bring in a stellar group of cardiologists that are loyal to our community hospital,” Heyn said. “This is an exciting new endeavor into a relationship that the board looks forward to benefitting from.

“The board is positioning this organization to flourish and provide cutting edge technology, physician resources, programic gaps, infrastructure that we otherwise could not provide as a completely independent hospital. We need the efficiencies of a health system.”

Heyn said independent hospitals are a dying breed.

“It was reported that 70 percent of all hospitals in the nation are already part of health systems,” he said. “In October 2014, my first strategic planning retreat with the board, I planted the seed at that time. The plan is to provide more and not pay as much for it as we move forward. The community is going to see continued positive changes in their community hospital. They will see growth, more services and providers.”