COEUR D’ALENE – Kootenai Health said Aug. 8 that it has signed a letter of intent to transfer ownership of two critical access hospitals that serve largely rural areas in north-central Idaho from Essentia Health to Kootenai Health.
The properties are Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics in Orofino and St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics in Cottonwood.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
In a news release, Kootenai said because they are geographically remote from Minnesota-based Essentia, a nonprofit health care organization, it’s hard for the hospitals “to collaborate and coordinate care” across the system.
In February 1998, Clearwater and St. Mary’s formed a partnership through the Benedictine Health System to form a regional health care system. The two facilities share a joint management team, exchange staff, enter into joint service and purchasing contracts and support one another in carrying out the mission of Essentia Health (formerly the Benedictine Health System).
As a part of their health care mission, both St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley hospitals acquired or established satellite medical clinics in Kamiah, Kooskia, Nezperce, Craigmont, Pierce, Cottonwood, Grangeville and Orofino. They hosted close to 45,000 patient visits last year.
The three organizations will work together during the next several months to finalize the terms of the transition plan, which is expected to be complete in early 2020.
“Strong regional relationships are critical for rural hospitals to remain independent and survive. Isolation puts rural hospitals at risk of closing their doors and leaving their communities without the health care and employment opportunities they need,” Kootenai said in a prepared statement. “This partnership is intended to help ensure ongoing, quality health care in these communities.”
Critical Access Hospital is a designation given to eligible rural hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The CAH classification is designed to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to health care.
Kootenai Health provides medical services to patients in North Idaho and throughout the Inland Northwest. The main campus is located in Coeur d’Alene and includes a 330-bed community-owned hospital as well as Kootenai Clinic, a network of more than 200 physicians and advanced practice providers working in 25 different specialties throughout its service area.