Some direct competition for Keokuk Area Hospital could arrive in May 2015 in the form of a partnership between Fort Madison Community Hospital and Blessing Health System out of Quincy, Ill.
Blessing currently provides FMCH with its emergency room physicians. Their next collaboration will be the Keokuk Medical Center. The recently-announced facility would feature two family practice physicians, office staff, nurses, and an x-ray technician.
"We felt there was a need for a primary care center in Keokuk staffed by physicians to help meet the growing health care needs of the area," said FMCH CEO Jim Platt.
He said the partnership "seemed like a natural fit as we share the same commitment to providing quality health care services."
The announcement was a surprise to Duane Fitch, who heads the company managing Keokuk Area Hospital. He was also surprised by the suggestion that Keokuk needs primary care.
"The notion that there isn't quality health care or primary care available in Keokuk is an assessment we are not in agreement with," said Fitch. "We think our physicians have done a wonderful job of serving all payers in our community."
Fitch pointed directly to recent progress the hospital.
- The addition of a new General Surgeon
- The addition of a new Orthopedic Surgeon
- A partnership with University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics on Urology Services
- A Telemedicine Program in the ER with University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
Fitch said Keokuk Area Hospital is seriously concerned about the financial impact of the new facility.
He said the recently completed fiscal year was the first in years to show net income for KAH. But given the area's high poverty rate and reduced state and federal reimbursements for services provided, he said a loss of patients would have a negative impact.
"Our concern is the funded patients will be more attractive to them," said Fitch. "And they will re-direct them out of the service area, which creates a vulnerability for the entire health system (in Keokuk)."
Platt said that is not the goal of FMCH or Blessing. He said FMCH has a strong, existing client base in and around Keokuk that would be served by the new facility.
"It's our intent to better met their needs by having a facility readily available for them."
Platt said there has not been a location identified for the Keokuk Medical Center.
West Burlington-based Great River Medical Center already manages a clinic on the Keokuk Area Hospital campus.