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Hospital, clinic agree to merge

The Alexandria Clinic may soon integrate with Douglas County Hospital. File photo.1 / 2
Carl Vaagenes, CEO of Douglas County Hospital.2 / 2

Another medical merger in Alexandria is moving forward.

The Alexandria Clinic and Douglas County Hospital issued a news release Monday afternoon saying they have reached a preliminary understanding in their merger negotiations and both parties have signed a letter of intent under which Alexandria Clinic would be integrated with Douglas County Hospital.

"We are pleased to have reached this milestone, and will diligently work together over the next few months with the goal of finalizing details associated to the integration for final approval before July 1, 2012," said Carl Vaagenes, CEO at Douglas County Hospital (DCH).

The DCH board of directors and Alexandria Clinic leadership issued a joint statement: "We share a common vision to create a community-based integrated health care system that is supported by local decision making and community involvement. Through this new collaborative relationship, we will continue to offer a patient-centered and community focused alternative for health care by providing a broad range of primary care and specialty health care services through our fully integrated and locally owned and operated hospital and clinic."

The newly integrated organizations representing Douglas County Hospital, Heartland Orthopedic Specialists, and Alexandria Clinic, will initially include approximately 780 full-time equivalent staff, and more than 50 affiliated or employed full-time providers.

Plans are under way to recruit more primary care and other specialists to preserve access to local services and meet the increased healthcare needs of the region, according to clinic and hospital leaders.

The Alexandria Clinic was established in 1946 and has grown to 39 full time providers in the following specialties: express care, family practice, general surgery, hospitalist, internal medicine, lactation consultation, midwifery, obstetrics and gynecology, otorhinolaryngology (ENT), pediatrics, and urology.

All of the clinic's physicians are board certified in their specialty and are members of the Minnesota Medical Association.

DCH is a 127-bed acute care hospital, serving approximately 150,000 people in west central Minnesota, and providing a wide range of primary care and specialty services including orthopedics, urology, ophthalmology, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, pain management, spine surgery, podiatry, emergency medicine, pathology, radiology, internal medicine, family practice, otorhinolaryngology (ENT), medical oncology and radiation oncology.

The hospital also has specialized programs in radiation oncology, medical oncology, hospitalist and kidney dialysis. Douglas County Hospital is accredited by the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program, and has been named a "Top 100 Hospital" in the nation in 2001 and 2008.

This will be the second major medical merger in Alexandria since the start of the year. On January 3, Sanford Health, based in the Dakotas, merged with the Broadway Medical Center in Alexandria.