COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a board meeting Friday, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) voted unanimously to acquire three midlands hospitals, a free-standing emergency department and 17 affiliated physician practices.
MUSC’s Board of Trustees voted with no opposition to expanding their state-wide reach.
Providence Health in downtown Columbia and in Northeast Columbia as well as Kershaw Health and a free-standing emergency department in Fairfield County will soon become MUSC facilities.
Dr. David Cole, President of MUSC, tells us, “this is on a continuum of, for us, our strategy, which is really to provide and step into helping to increase and fill gaps across the state.”
Dr. Cole says there are many elements to this acquisition. “MUSC has equally the privilege and the responsibility of being the leading academic health system and what that means in terms of providing care. We have significant assets that we can, and should deploy.”
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MUSC is confident that this will bring better overall care to patients in the Midlands. “We can provide telehealth and provide specialty backup to provide better access to care in that community and, at the end of the day, we feel strongly that the best care is local.”
Chairman of the MUSC Board of Trustees Dr. James Lemon tells us, “it will not be a situation where we want patients to come in and move them to Charleston, that is not the intent at all. As I’ve said over and over, we want the best care locally," he continues. "We’ve been successful in coming into areas where there are opportunities to provide healthcare for the people of our state other than just the financial end in Charleston.”
Lemon says the multi-faceted purchase could benefit the community in many ways. “There’s also what we feel like is a continuation of our care for the people of the state ... We had 1,000 discharges out of Charleston from the Midlands last year," Lemon said. "These people can stay here. These were not high-level, extremely complex cases so those are the ones we feel are best served locally. We feel the best care is local care.”
Kershaw County officials are looking forward to the new ownership, as well. Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter says, “they’re an amazing institution. They represent the best values of SC, They have experience now with our sister counties around us in Florence, in Lancaster, among others so it’s going to be a great marriage and great partnership. We’re looking forward to it."
“I think they’re going to know pretty quick that MUSC is here to work with the local officials and work with the local community. That’s what we’ve done in our other areas, that’s how we do business," CEO of MUSC Dr. Patrick Cawley says of the new local relationships.
While there are many more steps involved before the merger, MUSC hopes to have these places rebranded by August 1.
Dr. Cole says, “the two basic principles we’re looking at is the best care is local and we’ll support that anywhere possible and South Carolina needs to be taken care of by South Carolinians when at all possible.”