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Longview Regional Medical Center, diagnostic clinic finalize affiliation

By Special to the News-Journal
March 5, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Diagnostic Clinic of Longview and Longview Regional Medical Center have completed a formal affiliation announced earlier this year that should pave the way for more growth in Longview's medical community, officials said Monday.

The organizations will retain their individual brands and management teams, according to Dr. Robert Wheeler, president of Diagnostic Clinic.

"This is an exciting time for everyone associated with our organizations, and the real benefit will be in the months and years ahead," he said.

"Now, with a shared vision for the future and even greater collaboration, we are positioned to enhance the patient experience and deliver a higher level of personalized care."

The hospital and clinic had a reception Monday evening to celebrate making the deal official.

The previous ownership interest by physicians from Diagnostic Clinic in Longview Regional had stymied the hospital's growth due to federal rules that block any new physician-owned hospital's growth and limit expansion for those hospitals that already had physician ownership.

For the past five years, Longview Regional at Fourth Street and Hollybrook Drive has been partly owned by physicians, including those at Diagnostic Clinic. As part of the deal, Longview Regional agreed to repurchase the syndication interests to the physicians, officials said.

Kendrick earlier said further expansion had become legally unwieldy under federal health care reforms that included provisions forbidding doctor-owned hospitals from expanding. That meant shares of the hospital held by doctors, most of whom work out of Diagnostic Clinic, were legally blocking further expansion.

While not providing details, Kendrick also earlier said Longview Regional has big plans for expanding.

Wheeler said Diagnostic Clinic will be guided by a joint oversight committee with representatives from the clinic and Longview Regional. Diagnostic Clinic physicians will continue to serve on Regional's board of trustees, actively participating in hospital governance.

Officials said the two medical providers are joining forces at a time when shifting dynamics in the healthcare industry are encouraging greater collaboration among providers.

"Our hospital values partnership with physicians - not just in our operating rooms, but in our operations as well," said Jim Kendrick, CEO of Longview Regional. "We have tremendous respect for the DCOL physicians and their entire team."

Diagnostic Clinic is a multi-specialty physician group practice consisting of more than 130 physicians and mid-level providers in 18 locations.

Longview Regional Medical Center is a 131-bed acute care hospital owned by Community Health Systems of Tennessee.



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