Transition underway for ACMC

ACMC, together with Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, is now part of a health care system with a new name — Carris Health

Photo by Deb Gau ACMC’s clinic locations — including the Marshall clinic — are now part of the new Carris Health health care system. Carris Health, a subsidiary of the CentraCare health system in central Minnesota, was officially formed from ACMC Health and Rice Memorial Hospital starting Jan. 1.

MARSHALL — It’s been a little more than a month since Affiliated Community Medical Centers officially became part of a new health system, with a new name and new joint leadership. But so far, said Dr. Steven Meister, the change should be pretty subtle.

“Things for the patients should be fairly seamless,” Meister said.

For example, you might see some different-looking staff name tags, he said. But for now, some things, like the ACMC name on the Marshall clinic and surgery center, are still the same. And the care patients receive is definitely the same.

The gradual transition into ACMC’s new identity — Carris Health — is part of a plan to help enhance health care in southwest and west-central Minnesota, said Dr. Cindy Firkins Smith, co-CEO of Carris Health.

“We’ve been working on this for the past year,” Smith said. Last spring, ACMC Health, Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, and CentraCare Health, a non-profit health care system based in central Minnesota, entered into talks to form a new regional partnership.

“Our organizations determined that we simply couldn’t stand alone any more,” Smith said.

In December, the three organizations finalized an agreement creating a new health system: Carris Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of CentraCare. ACMC and Rice Memorial Hospital officially became part of Carris Health starting Jan. 1. However, Smith said the transition is being rolled out slowly.

“People shouldn’t expect any disruption,” she said.

Smith said a lot of the work in this point of the transition has been on forming Carris Health’s new leadership and organization. Smith and her co-CEO, Mike Schramm, the CEO of Rice Memorial Hospital, were chosen for their positions in December. After that, she said, the newly-formed Carris Health started working with guidance from CentraCare to create an organizational structure and interview candidates for leadership positions.

Meister, a doctor at ACMC in Marshall, is now part of the leadership group working with the transition into Carris Health, said Smith. Meister is the physician vice president of Clinical Support Services.

So far, Meister said, work on the transition to Carris Health has been going smoothly. As part of his leadership role, he said, he’s working with a wide variety of divisions that help support patient care, like laboratory and imaging services.

“We have a good team overall,” Meister said. It was “a pleasure” to work under Smith and Schramm, he said.

The official formation of Carris Health will help enhance health care in the region, Smith and Meister said. Meister said being part of a larger health system will help give Carris Health access to more resources, and more leverage for working with insurance companies. Carris Health is also a non-profit, which Meister said could help make it more attractive when recruiting doctors.

A lot of resources come together in the partnership of CentraCare, Rice Memorial Hospital, and ACMC Health. CentraCare’s system includes 28 clinic locations and six hospitals, including hospitals in St. Cloud, Monticello and Sauk Centre. And Carris Health’s members also bring resources and employees to the partnership. Rice Memorial Hospital is a Level III trauma hospital in Willmar, which also has specialty clinic locations. ACMC has two ambulatory surgery centers and 10 clinics, with locations including Marshall, Redwood Falls and Granite Falls.

ACMC Health’s 955 employees and Rice Memorial Hospital’s 1,350 employees will be employed by Carris Health, a December news release said. Rice Memorial Hospital assets will continue to be owned by the city of Willmar, the release said.

“We’re really excited about the possibilities in health care,” that Carris Health brings, Smith said.

While the change over to Carris Health shouldn’t be disruptive for patients, the group does have online resources for people with questions. More information on Carris Health is available online at Questions can be submitted at the site, as well.