CORTLAND, N.Y. — Guthrie and Cortland Regional Medical Center (CRMC) announced their affiliation at a press conference at the hospital Thursday morning, marking the end of a roughly 2-year long process by the Cortland hospital to affiliate with a larger healthcare system.
CRMC first announced its intentions to explore an affiliation in October 2016, and the hospital began entertaining offers from multiple health care organizations. In September 2017, CRMC President and CEO Mark Webster announced the hospital's intentions to affiliate with The Guthrie Clinic, a nonprofit integrated health system with locations in north central Pennsylvania and upstate New York. A year later, the New York State Department of Public Health approved the affiliation.
The hospital has suffered financial woes for years due to low patient volume and high administrative costs. In July 2017, the New York State Department of Health provided the hospital with a $19 million debt relief grant to ensure that the hospital would remain open.
"There was a clear identification of cash flow issues," said Dr. Chris Moheimani, a Homer resident and physician at Cortland Regional Medical Center since 1998. "It's not bad leadership, it's just the way the insurance companies manhandle us. It wasn't working."
Now that the affiliation is official, an integration task force made up of about 50 employees from both organizations will implement the transition process in their respective areas.
"We'll now spends three or four months working through the nuts and bolts of those transitions," said Guthrie President and CEO Joseph Scopelliti.
Stan Cadet, a nurse practitioner who graduated from SUNY Cortland in 2008, views the affiliation as a positive step forward for the Cortland community, ensuring that more healthcare resources remain localized.
"They have a lot of benefits for education, employees, and patients," Cadet said. "A bigger system means more available resources to the community."
Webster has said that Guthrie has committed to forego layoffs or reductions in hospital staff for the next 10 years.
"This is the diagnostic phase of the relationship," Webster said. "They're involved in diagnosing us from a facilities perspective, and determining what the unmet needs are in the community."
A member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Guthrie employs more than 325 physicians and 210 advanced practice providers offering 47 specialities through a regional office network. Guthrie operates hospitals in Sayre, Penn., Corning, N.Y., Towanda, Penn., Troy, Penn., and, now, Cortland, N.Y.