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Nanticoke Health Services merges with Peninsula Regional

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SEAFORD ““ Nanticoke Health Services officially merged with Peninsula Regional Health System on Jan. 2, ending a long journey that helped Nanticoke survive in a difficult health care marketplace for smaller systems.

The announcement was not a surprise as the two health care systems passed final state and federal regulatory approvals in the fall, and had said they expected to combine after Dec. 31.

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has officially joined Peninsula Regional Medical Center. | Photo courtesy of NHS

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, the Nanticoke Physician Network, and all other Nanticoke health care services are now a part of the Salisbury, Maryland-based Peninsula Regional, which will grow again later this year when the merger of McCready Health, based in Crisfield, Maryland, is completed.

Founded in 1952, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital boasts 99 beds, outpatient services, a Level III trauma center, and specialty programs in stroke, interventional cardiology and cancer care. Meanwhile, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, founded in 1897, features 266 beds, outpatient services, a Level III trauma center, and specialty programs in neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, cancer care and more.

Officials said that under the merger health care services in Seaford will be enhanced, including adding additional technology and procedures, and possibly new locations for care.

Both Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and Peninsula Regional Medical Center will keep their names under the merger. A branding study is currently underway to develop a new name for the health system that will be revealed in late spring, officials said.

Officials said that integration teams from both organizations have been working to combine the health care system for months and will develop a plan for future growth. There are no immediate plans for a change in staffing, which will eventually incorporate nearly 5,000 employees. Among the shared services that are being evaluated for “enhancements” are oncology, cardiology and orthopedics, officials said.

“We are excited for the next phase of the Nanticoke journey,” said Penny Short, president of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, in a statement. “By partnering with Peninsula Regional Health System, Nanticoke will be able to continue providing the high quality, compassionate care we are known for while expanding services for our community. Together with Peninsula, we are ensuring our community has access to the quality health care it deserves for years to come.”

Nanticoke Health Services President and CEO Steve Rose, who will retire later this month, previously told Delaware Business Times that Nanticoke had been looking at potential mergers since 2014.

“We saw the handwriting on the wall as the health care landscape has changed,” he said in October, noting that his organization had also explored a merger with an unnamed Delaware-based health system that ultimately wasn’t chosen.

“Health care systems are more frequently coming together to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving environment. We are proud to now have officially merged, and together as a new system we will be working throughout the region to better the health and wellness of Delmarva,” said Steve Leonard, president and CEO of Peninsula Regional Health System, in a statement. “We continue to look for partners on this journey and are excited about McCready joining soon and the opportunities to grow that will follow.”

Leonard previously told DBT that his organization already gets more than 24% of its revenue and 21% of its patients from Delaware, and he believed that “health care in the future depends on servicing a region and taking care of a larger population.”

Officials reported that the new large, combined physician network will work toward the use of a shared electronic medical record, allowing for better communication across providers, especially in specialty referrals.

“As a dedicated group of health care professional serving the Delmarva Peninsula, we are thrilled to join with our colleagues at Nanticoke in becoming our own enterprise,” said Dr. Karin DiBari, vice president and chief physician executive of Peninsula Regional Medical Group. “This physician-led, professionally managed, multi-specialty network of practices founded on teamwork and communication, will allow us to continue to attract and retain talented professionals to meet the needs of our community and thrive in this ever-changing health care environment.”

By Jacob Owens

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