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Clarian, Morgan clear way for merger

December 22, 2010

The merger of Morgan Hospital & Medical Center into Clarian Health got the go-ahead from all parties in the past week, opening the way for Morgan to bring new doctors to its facilities.

Morgan County officials OK’d the deal Monday night after Clarian’s board gave its approval last week. The merger is expected to be official as of Jan. 31.

Morgan Hospital CEO Tom Laux has a variety of operational duties to focus on—developing new bylaws, populating an expanded board, transferring all Morgan employees over to the new entity formed by the merger and changing signage.

But beyond that, he’s focusing on tapping some the specialists in the Clarian system, particularly in ophthalmology and cardiology.

“We anticipate some fairly rapid growth in specialties,” he said Tuesday. He added that Morgan will try to hire more health care providers to staff its physician health centers around the county, and perhaps have more Clarian doctors see patients at Morgan facilities.

Access to specialist physicians is a common reason many smaller hospitals have chosen to merge recently with larger systems. Morgan also thinks Clarian’s buying power can help it save $2 million a year in expenses as well as help it negotiate higher reimbursement rates from private health insurance plans.

Morgan and Clarian partially integrated back in early 2006. And while a merger wasn’t inevitable as part of that agreement, it became the natural choice, Laux said—especially after the health reform law created new pressures and incentives for hospitals to get larger.

“It just seemed a good fit,” Laux said.

Clarian, with nearly $4 billion in revenue, dwarfs Morgan in size. The county-owned hospital has annual revenue of $49 million.

Morgan will be the 17th hospital Clarian owns around the state. It is also talking to White County Memorial Hospital in Monticello about a merger.

Clarian will change its name next year to Indiana University Health to capitalize on its connection with the IU School of Medicine.

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