Memorial Health

The future of Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimbursements are the driving force behind Memorial Health System having an affiliation with Salina Regional Health Center, said Board Chairman Dr. Steve Schwarting.

“The change in the paradigm across the country is affiliations and larger systems. On the horizon, whether it is near or a little bit further, is population health,” he said in an interview Monday morning.

The need is for affiliations to serve about 50,000 people.

He said Blue Cross and Blue Shield is also looking at the new way of billing for services.

“That is a lot of why we are looking at this,” he said. “We have talked about it for years.”

Salina Regional is looking at Abilene to increase its population through an affiliation.

“And they want us in their system because many of our patients leave Abilene go to Salina. And for a significant number of our population, that is their primary care,” he said.

He said medical records would be unified.



However, Schwarting said, Memorial Health System is not selling and there are still many details that need to be addressed.

“Some of that has to be worked out,” he said. “We have unknowns here. I can see the concerns about loss of local control.”

There are certain requirements from CMA to approve an affiliate. One is employee payroll.

“We know there will be a melding of finances. All of the employees would get checks written on Salina Regional checks,” he said. “What we are doing in our investigation and our letter of intent is making sure we maintain local control, that we can hire and fire as we need to for our system.

“It looks like they are going to sweep in and tell us what to,” he said. “That is not what they have done with Lindsborg and Concordia and they have reassured us that is not what they are going to do with us if we choose to affiliate. Ownership and affiliation are two different things.”


Other businesses

Schwarting said none of the other affiliates have a nursing home or a fitness center.

“They are looking at us to share with the other hospitals how to do a nursing home,” he said. “And the same with home and health hospice, Frontier Estates and a fitness center. We have several lines of businesses.”

The Letter of Intent approved at the last board meeting in August says, “The MHS Board of Trustees will have certain reserved powers to be defined in a Management and Operating Agreement that will include but not limited to the right to participate in strategic planning, to approve the sale of its assets, to approve appointments to its medical staff and the privileges granted to staff members, to approve annual operating and capital budgets and to have input into the selection of the chief  administrator at its facility.”

Memorial Health System is a public entity with the ability to levy property taxes. The levy had historically been 2 mills.

The Board of Trustees are elected officials and meetings are conducted under the Kansas Open Meetings Act and Kansas Open Records Act.

The bylaws say one of its purposes is to “Operate and maintain a hospital with permanent facilities for inpatient and outpatient services for the benefit, care and treatment of the sick, injured, aged and disabled patients of Dickinson County and the surrounding area.”

Bylaws say the duties: “Shall have charge, control and management of property, affairs, and funds of the hospital. Shall approve an annual operating budget...”

Schwarting said that if the board and Salina Regional can’t agree on a Management and Operating Agreement, there will be no affiliation. He also said that even if there is an agreement now, the current board or future boards could end the affiliation.

“The thing we really want to protect as a board is our culture,” he said. “Our small hospital culture is extremely important to us, our staff and the patients that we serve.”

Schwarting said there is no intent to decrease services.

“We want to serve our population and if we cut services, we would cut out serving our population,” he said.

For example, Schwarting said the physicians that specialize in areas would continue to service Abilene at the Abilene hospital.

Memorial Health System is changing attorneys as Peter Johnson represents Salina Regional Health Center. Jim Angell of Kennedy Berkley in Salina is the new attorney.

Contact Tim Horan at


Contact Tim Horan at

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