White River Health System and Fulton County Hospital Agree to Affiliation

Batesville, Ark - Gary Bebow, CEO of White River Health System (WRHS) in Batesville , and Charles WilIett, CEO of Fulton County Hospital (FCH), announced that WRHS and FCH in Salem entered into a formal affiliation agreement. The hospitals remain independent organizations, and there will be no change in the ownership or administrative leadership. The goal of the affiliation is to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivered to the citizens of Fulton County and the surrounding area, and the continued independent operation of WRHS and FCH.

Under the agreement, FCH will have the opportunity to take advantage of discounts provided in group purchasing agreements for supplies and equipment. FCH leaders and WRHS leaders will share best practices to improve quality, efficiency and overall organizational performance in areas such as Information Technology, Managed Care, Marketing and other areas as appropriate.

"Our affiliation with FCH recognizes that access to care is critically important to improving health in rural communities," said Bebow. "The Fulton County community has worked tirelessly to support their local hospital. I look forward to a relationship with the leadership and medical community of Fulton County that will continue to provide local medical care."

In addition to group purchasing agreements and information sharing, WRHS will collaborate with FCH to bring specialty healthcare to area residents through satellite clinics. These services may include:

Cardiology, Dermatology, General Surgery, Neurology, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat), Pain Management, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Rheumatology, Urology and Wound Management.

"It is increasing difficult for rural critical access hospitals to remain independent," said Willett. "Our affiliation with WRHS is an important step for our organization to achieve our goal of providing quality medical care and maintaining local ownership and leadership. The Board of Directors and Administrative team at WRHS respect our independence, and I am confident that this affiliation will benefit both our organizations."

WRHS is a not-for-profit healthcare system that includes two hospitals, outpatient facilities, and primary care and specialty physician office practices. WRHS is a member of the Premier Alliance, the American Hospital Association, and the Arkansas Hospital Association and licensed by the Arkansas Department of Health.

FCH is a county-owned 25-bed critical access hospital serving Salem and the Fulton County area since 1963. FCH is a member of the Arkansas Hospital Association and licensed by the Arkansas Department of Health.