Cannon County Chamber of Commerce officers received good news about St. Thomas Stones River Hospital Friday (Sept. 25).
"The hospital is here to stay," said Sue Conley, hospital CEO. "There have been lots of prayers and Saint Thomas answered them."
On Aug. 1, 2015, Stones River Hospital officially joined the Saint Thomas Health and Ascension Health families and is now known as Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital. Stones River is now a full member of Middle Tennessee's largest and most comprehensive health care system.
Gordon Ferguson, president and chief executive officer of Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, is also president of Saint Thomas Health Regional Hospitals. That list includes Stones River, River Park Hospital in McMinnville, Highlands Medical Center in Sparta and DeKalb Community Hospital. Each of those hospitals were formerly owned by Capella Healthcare and Saint Thomas Health.
On August 1, 2015, Ascension, parent organization of Saint Thomas Health, acquired four Middle Tennessee hospitals previously jointly owned by Capella Healthcare and Saint Thomas Health. The hospitals have become a part of the Ascension Tennessee ministry, Saint Thomas Health.
Capella, a Franklin, Tenn. privately-owned hospital chain, had formerly owned Stones River Hospital. Capella entered into the joint venture with Ascension's St. Thomas Health division in 2012.
Now the hospitals, including Stones River, are owned by Ascension.
The for-profit Capella chain had been strongly considering closing Stones River Hospital ... completely.
Saint Thomas and Ascension are not-for-profit hospitals.
A not-for-profit hospital, is a facility which is organized as a non-profit corporation. Based on their charitable purpose and frequently affiliated with a religious denomination they are a traditional means of delivering medical care in the United States.
One of the first things Ascension did after purchasing Stones River Hospital was the raise the minimum wage to $11 per hour, Ferguson said. Now the process is underway to convert Stones River's operation methods to Ascension's style.
Now, Stones River and Saint Thomas officials are meeting weekly to complete the transition, he said. Supply costs are going to go down just because Ascension, due to its volume, is able to purchase supplies for a much better price.
"We really want to do what we can to make the hospital a part of our network," Ferguson said.
Capella had the intent to close this hospital, he said.
Conley said the change-over is already showing benefits.
"Our board members, our community leaders have seen our struggles," she said. "We are now doing much better than we were."
"Community support is now what we need," she said. Area residents have been confused about the changes.
Part of Stones River's problems were generated by the opening of TrustPoint hospital in Murfreesboro.
TrustPoint "raided" this hospital taking 11 employees and a physician, she said.
Ferguson said the staff of Stones River was pleased about Saint Thomas.
"I have met with the doctors and the staff several times and they are engaged" with the changes, he said.
"Everyone is thrilled to death at Saint Thomas. I've not heard a single complaint," Conley said.