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Utica hospitals' affiliation approved by state

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Utica hospitals' affiliation approved by state
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As healthcare continues to change, hospitals are finding it more and more difficult to survive. For decades Faxton St. Luke's Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center have been competitors, sitting just a mile and a half apart in Utica. The two are now officially partners. Our Cara Thomas tells us about the new Mohawk Valley Health System.

UTICA, N.Y. -- It's an announcement officials from Faxton St. Luke's Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center have been waiting to make for three years.

Scott Perra, President/CEO of the Mohawk Valley Health System, said, "We've now, we believe, filed all the paperwork necessary with all the different agencies to establish and activate Mohawk Valley Health System."

On Wednesday the two hospitals were given the go ahead by the New York State Department of Health to officially join forces. They will continue to act as separate entities, but will be run by their new parent company, Mohawk Valley Health System. The organization will be governed by a board of 18 members, equally divided between the two medical institutions.

Hon. Norman Siegel, Board Chairman of the parent company, said, "I think what we are doing is we're combining the positive aspects of both facilities, hopefully we're going to learn from each other. And what we're striving for is to get the best from each hospital and incorporate that into both hospitals."

Short term, not a lot will change. Up until this point the hospitals were not allowed to discuss their financial and clinical operations with one another. Over the next few months, the board will start to discuss a new strategic plan and take a look at potential consolidation opportunities, but they say consolidation doesn't necessarily mean job loss.

"Maybe a redeployment of people's responsibilities and duties from one position to a different position but we're not coming together just to certainly reduce staff moving forward," said Perra.

Hospital officials say to make this affiliation a success, they're going to need full cooperation from all their employees. They say the obstacles they faced over the last three years, is nothing compared to what's ahead.

One reason the hospitals chose an affiliation over a merger was so St. Elizabeth Medical Center could remain a catholic institution. St. E's will continue to not provide women's reproductive health services.

Healthcare at both hospitals will stay the same. They will continue to provide the same insurances, services and offer the same providers for employees.

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