Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette Numerous members of Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center's various governing boards, as well as hospital administrators meet in the hospital's second floor classroom on Tuesday to discuss potentially affiliating with another healthcare organization.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

Numerous members of Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center's various governing boards, as well as hospital administrators meet in the hospital's second floor classroom on Tuesday to discuss potentially affiliating with another healthcare organization.

Officials with Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center announced on Tuesday that the local hospital has begun exploring its options regarding potentially affiliating with another organization.

During a Grayson County Hospital District Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, hospital administrators and board members gathered to discuss the initiative, and, following a more than one-hour-long executive session, the hospital district voted to pass a resolution to begin accepting proposals for potential affiliation with another organization.

"The board of directors and hospital leadership are proactively exploring a potential affiliation with another healthcare organization to strengthen the hospital's position and provide improved care and resources to take the hospital forward," said Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center Board Chair Trevor Ray, PharmD in a news release. "We are excited about the potential to better serve our patients, maintain and enhance the services we currently provide, add new service lines, and focus on physician recruitment and retention."

According to the resolution, hospital leadership has found that there are numerous benefits for a rural hospital to affiliate with a larger system/organization, including access to costly advanced technology; improved physician and healthcare professional recruitment and retention; improved access to subspecialty medical care; shared operational support, reducing costs; access to group purchasing and reduced costs; reduced costs for improvements, advanced equipment, and expanded service lines; and access to third-party payor contracts.

Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center CEO Wayne Meriwether said the hospital has requested proposals from potential affiliation partners to "see if they are willing and able to further the health and vitality of the communities Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center serves."

The goal behind this initiative, according to Meriwether, is to enhance and improve current services provided by the hospital, as well as to provide new services, and to recruit new physicians.

"We want to make sure the vitality of our hospital is strong," Meriwether said.

While the hospital district notes in its resolution that many rural hospitals currently struggle financially due to high operational costs and low patient volumes, as well as a limited number of healthcare providers, Meriwether said the local hospital is currently in a strong financial standing, which is why now is the best time to begin exploring its options regarding affiliation.

Meriwether said that, as long as the hospital is in a secure financial position and is capable of remaining independent, TLRMC can ensure that, if it does opt to to partner with another organization, it gets the best deal for its community.

According to the news release in which TLRMC made the affiliation initiative announcement, the hospital will accept proposals from potential partners and determine whether it is in the hospital's best interest to remain independent or pursue an affiliation. Each potential partner organization will be evaluated to understand how it can best assist TLRMC in realizing its strategic objectives.

Should hospital leadership decide to move forward in exclusive discussions with a potential partner organization, "a lengthy, confidential due diligence process will be undertaken, as well as any required regulatory review processes," the release states. "The board will not enter into any binding agreement until it has shared information about the proposed direction of the plan with key stakeholders."

The process of accepting and reviewing proposals is expected to take several months to a year, and, "if we don't get the type of deal we're looking for, we don't have to do it," Meriwether said.

In a statement concluding the news release, hospital board members say they recognize that Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center is the sole provider of essential healthcare services to the community, and, as a major employer, TLRMC is a vital community economic engine with Grayson County and preserving its success is critical.