LANHAM — Doctors Community Health System (DCHS) and the Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) finalized their definitive agreement to solidify their partnership and merge into one health system on July 1.
Doctors Community Health System is a network of hospitals providing medical and surgical services throughout Prince George’s County and in Anne Arundel County with its flagship being Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham.
DCHS contains more than a dozen systems in Bowie, Camp Springs, Crofton, District Heights, Hyattsville, Lanham, Largo, Laurel, Riverdale and Temple Hills.
The Anne Arundel Medical Center is a regional health system with its headquarters in Annapolis. Servicing more than a million people, the AAMC includes a multi-specialty medical group, imaging and lab services, convenience care clinics and a research institute. It also has outpatient pavilions in Bowie, Kent Island, Odenton and Pasadena in addition to its Annapolis campus.
The two health systems shared their intent to partner in May, signed their definitive agreement in June and closed on July 1. They will now move forward with their plans to form a new health system to serve the region better.
“The new health system will reimagine community care, improving access and population health while expanding services throughout Maryland,” said AAMC President and CEO Victoria Bayless.
“We will continue our community focus and provide personalized and localized care that our patients need. We want to ensure that the care our patients receive is from those who know the region and have a longstanding commitment to meeting the needs of our communities.”
According to AAMC Communications Supervisor Arminta Plater, the two systems decided to join together due to the changing health care landscape as the number of independent hospitals in a sea of large health systems starts to decline.
“DCHS has considered a number of partners but were committed to finding a health care provider whose mission and values aligned with their own — to meet the needs of communities and patients across Maryland,” Plater said.
Also, DCHS wanted to be able to grow to meet the growing needs of their patients, Plater said. Many people who live in Prince George’s County currently travel to Washington D.C., Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County and Virginia to seek care, she said.
According to the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), there is a need for more inpatient beds and outpatient services in Prince George’s County. By working together to create a new health system, the hope is that both health systems can expand access and provide high-quality care closer to home.
“Our vision is to create an exceptional system of care that honors the legacies of both DCHS and AAMC while being aspirational about our future together,” said Bayless. “Ultimately, we are here to serve our communities and to do so in a way that reimagines the possibilities of community health for the region.”
The merging of the two health systems will not be immediate, Plater said. After conversations with community members and employees, DCHS and AAMC will develop a transition plan over the next few months. It will include phases and full integration will likely take two years.
Until then, the two systems will maintain their own governing boards and both of those boards will have representation in the new health system. The name of the new system is expected to be announced later this summer.
Bayless will remain as the CEO of the new system. DCHS’ chief operating officer since 2010, Paul Grenaldo, will succeed Phillip Down as the president of DCHS. Down will serve as the strategic advisor to the new health system.
Grenaldo called the agreement an “amazing time for healthcare” for each entity in their community.
“With Doctors Community Health System and Anne Arundel Medical Center engaged as partners in this integration process, we have an amazing opportunity to design a system that is keenly focused on addressing the evolving medical needs of area residents and contributing to the ongoing development of a highly talented workforce.”
Although there are many DCHS locations in Prince George’s County, the integration of the two health systems does not come with the intention to close any of them down, Plater said.
It is instead an opportunity to grow and enhance their services to meet the needs of the community they already serve as well as the grow DCHS large enough to be a voice for health care in the region.
There are also plans to improve some of DCHS’ facilities as well as build new infrastructure to support additional services in Prince George’s County, Plater said. Some of those improvements will include upgrades to DCHS’ main campus, updates to the IT platform, and an expansion of outpatient services throughout Prince George’s County.
“Working together, we will reach even higher levels of excellence throughout Maryland,” Grenaldo said.