Carson-Tahoe Hospital officials are pondering another attempt at affiliation with another hospital.
The city-owned hospital has tried unsuccessfully for three years to find a partner to provide health care in Carson City and Douglas County. Hospital trustees will decide Thursday whether to begin shopping for another potential partner.
"We're looking to get some benefit from a group of hospitals, not just one," hospital chief executive officer Steve Smith.
Smith was mum on further information regarding the affiliation process pending a Wednesday meeting on the subject.
Hospital trustees recently approved $80,000 to hire a company to help them affiliate, as well as assist the hospital with some other financial decisions.
An affiliation is an operating agreement between health care providers that excludes either a merger or exchange of assets, although the proposal before trustees doesn't eliminate either a merger or change of ownership.
In 1999, the hospital hired Alan Yordy, an Oregon-based health care consultant, to advise on affiliation talks between Carson-Tahoe, Washoe Health Systems of Reno and Lake Tahoe-based Barton Memorial Hospital. That move came one year after hospital trustees turned down signing a letter of intent to affiliate with Washoe Health Systems.
In November talks between the three area health providers ended with the affiliation of Barton and Washoe, leaving Carson-Tahoe to mull their standing as the area's primary health care provider.
Administrators from the two privately owned hospitals insisted in November their concern is patient care in the Carson Valley, but Carson-Tahoe administrators said in November the union created competitive pressure on Carson-Tahoe. About 25 to 30 percent of Carson-Tahoe's business filters into the hospital from outside Carson City, most from Douglas County.
Trustee Pete Livermore, also a member of the hospital's affiliation committee, said the hospital is focusing in a new direction with the new proposal, looking at about 15 different groups as potential partners.
"The more (Carson City) grows, the more likely it is that competition will want to come in," Livermore said. "We need to look long-term at Carson-Tahoe Hospital. We have a master plan. Where do we get the funding for the master plan? With the competition for health care we need to find a way to keep our costs down, keep competing and maximize our health care. Affiliation partners may be able to help us with that."
Livermore said although the hospital's attempts at finding a partner have been unsuccessful, hospital officials learn a lot each time they go through the process. He said Kaufman, Hall & Associates, the company hired to assist in the process, has helped with successful affiliations in other states and will probably be a better adviser in the process.
"Third time's a charm," he said. "I hope we get results this time. When you spend public money like this, you want to have results."
If you go:
What: Carson-Tahoe Hospital Board of Trustees meeting
When: Thursday, 5 p.m.
Where: Brewery Arts Center Conference Room, 449 W. King St.