Strategic Partnership Task Force Update – June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017                                                

Dear Board, Physicians, Employees and City Council Members,

This week, the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital (GMH) Strategic Partnerships Task Force (Task Force) delivered its final recommendations to the GMH Board which the Board endorsed. As a reminder, the members of the Task Force are:

  • Bill Allyn, Task Force Chair and Board of Directors Vice Chair
  • Russell Loven, Mayor
  • Karen Merrick, Board Member
  • Andrew C. Smith, MD, Chief of Staff

What was Recommended and Approved?

After a comprehensive and highly participative nine-month process, our recommendation was to begin to work on a Letter of Intent that would align our Hospital in partnership with Mercy Health Network (MHN) by working to develop a new Management Services Agreement (MSA).  The arrangement would align our two organizations as we move forward with a common purpose and shared goals.

Our plan is for the new agreement to remain in effect for at least two years which would enable many of our employees to vest in IPERS before any possible closer alignment or affiliation would happen.   During the period of the new MSA we will be working toward the achievement of some defined milestones under the Management Services Agreement. While not yet finalized, the milestones will be related to improvements made/accomplishments in the following critical areas:

  • GMH financial performance
  • Support of GMH physician practices
  • Success in the changing health care environment
  • Cultural compatibility

Under the new MSA arrangement we envision that GMH physicians will remain employees of GMH, and GMH provider team will receive clinical support from Mercy in Dubuque and Medical Associates in Dubuque as well as from the Mercy Health Network corporate rural healthcare division.

What Was the Rationale Behind the Recommendation?

As part of our evaluation process, the Task Force profiled 18 potential partners, conducted in-depth interviews with seven of these, and ultimately engaged in dialogue with three: Mercy Health Network, UnityPoint Health, and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

All organizations we evaluated are of the highest quality, with exceptional track records of success. In reaching our decision, which was not an easy one, we considered:


Dimension For example:
Financial Improvement ·   Help growing GMH’s services and market position

·   Continued access to insurance contracts

·   Cost savings through shared services/economies

·   Access to capital

Practice Support ·   Recruitment of primary care physicians

·   Access to specialists

·   Ability to transfer patients with ease

·   Current patient transfer and referral patterns

Success in the Changing Health Care Environment ·   Expertise in using data to improve health delivery

·   Expertise in population health

·   Collaboration with other Mercy affiliated hospitals in our region

·   Quality measurement and improvement infrastructure and expertise

Cultural Compatibility ·   High performance and high quality focus

·   Culture of teamwork and collaboration

·   Shared philosophy of how care should be delivered in rural communities

Where Do We Go From Here?

In the short term we will start the important work of bringing our organizations closer together. There will be challenges ahead, but there will also be opportunities. We will continue delivering outstanding health care to those we serve as we go through this process.

Final Thoughts and Thanks

We began this journey with a commitment to engaging our key stakeholders and keeping you informed at every step. Along the way, we:

  • Reported at 8 GMH Board meetings and 7 City Council meetings
  • Conducted 8 meetings with GMH staff and physicians
  • Provided updates in 3 GMH Employee Newsletters (GMH Pulse) and 1 GMH Community Newsletter (GMH News)
  • Published 6 stakeholder letter updates to provide more detail on the Task Force’s discussions
  • Reported progress in 6 articles in the Guttenberg Press
  • Maintained a dedicated corner on the GMH web site to house general information on the Task Force and its progress

Through these lines of communication, we learned what was most important to you and shaped our partner conversations and final decisions accordingly. While the Task Force was charged with shepherding this process, it truly was a community effort in every sense of the word. We are deeply grateful for the input and support we received from you.

Together, we have important work ahead: living our mission to improve the health and wellness of the communities we serve and fulfilling our vision to provide the best outcome for our patients.


Bill Allyn,  Strategic Partnerships Task Force Chair and Board of Directors Vice Chair

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