20 Mar Berger opens communications with community
CIRCLEVILLE— As the process continues for Berger Health System to align with a larger health system like OhioHealth, President and CEO Tim Colburn is unveiling two ways the public can keep on top of the negotiations.
Colburn said Berger has created both a website and a Facebook page in an effort to answer questions, provide information, and give updates on the status of talks with OhioHealth.
The website, www.strongerberger.org and the Facebook page called “Building a Stronger Berger” are both live.
“I’m really proud of the hard work since the first of the year the city, the county and the board have put into this,” Colburn said. “The community should know they have elected great people and have great board members that are looking after local healthcare.”
Last November, city voters approved a ballot measure to allow Berger Hospital to change ownership structure and allow facilities to be leased to a not-for-profit charitable organization.
“We ran the campaign and the ballot initiative passed in 2017 to change the ownership structure to align with a larger health system,” Colburn said. “Since that time, really since the first of the year, the city, the county and the board have been talking about how to move forward. They’ve been working to come up with a common perspective, and we’re getting closer to the point we’ll have that perspective and move on to talking with OhioHealth about becoming part of OhioHealth and changing our ownership structure.”
In addition to the web presence, Colburn said he remains personally available to answer questions about the changes going on at Berger.
“Even with these new outlets, know my door remains open,” Colburn said. “If you have any questions about our path forward, feel free to come to me directly or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Colburn also plans to discuss Berger’s ownership structure at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting at Circleville City Council. That meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 130 S Court St.
“There’s a lot of things that we have to talk about that are sensitive to Berger, and because they are, they’re listed as trade secrets,” he said. “We’re going to be as transparent as we possibly can throughout this process. We have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) out there, facts and information about how healthcare is changing. Other community hospitals doing the same things.”
Colburn said the goal of the eventual partnership and all of the discussions surrounding the process is to keep healthcare local and strong.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure healthcare in the community remains as strong as it has for the last 90 years,” he said. “We’ve picked a good partner in keeping local healthcare strong in OhioHealth. But that doesn’t stop the city, the county and the board from doing their due diligence at the negotiating table with OhioHealth.”
Colburn said that while the decision is not final on OhioHealth and partnering with them, OhioHealth will be the first choice and the first organization at the table.
“If we can’t negotiate with them, then we will talk to others, but OhioHealth is going to be first,” Colburn said. “It will be OhioHealth unless something goes horribly wrong.
“It’s not a foregone conclusion, we have some serious negotiations to do,” he continued. “As long as we focus on strengthening Berger and strengthening the community, we’re going to be fine.”
Colburn said all three parties involved in the negotiation have visited other locations that have undergone similar changes, such as Mansfield, to see what those health care entities might do differently if given another opportunity.
“We’re talking to and taking trips to those other locations to figure out what worked and what those communities asked for to make sure we’re doing what we can for Pickaway County,” he said. “There are successes in the past and our board and elected officials are going to look at those and we’re going to use that to set our success in the future.”