INDIANAPOLIS - Wishard-Eskenazi Health and Community Hospital have struck a partnership to better serve the health care needs of the Indianapolis community.
The two entities held a joint news conference Monday morning at City Market to announce what they called a joint operating agreement, which was in the works for more than six months.
The goal of the partnership is ultimately to be able to see more patients.
"Every resident of the city in central Indiana are going to have the opportunity to have more care, better care, greater access, higher quality, more options and more availability," said Matt Gutwein, president and CEO of Health and Hospital Corporation, which operates Wishard-Eskenazi Health
Wishard had 1.4 million outpatient visits last year, Community had more than 2 million patient encounters, and because of the Affordable Care Act, there will be even more patients seeking care.
The new partnership will provide greater efficiency and greater access for patients.
"If a patient might want to get into one of our facilities, we might be full that day. Community might have spaces available," Gutwein said.
"It's beyond anything that I could have dreamed of," said Bryan Mills, resident CEO of Community Health Network. "What it says is we can come together for the betterment of this city to implement health reform, which has all kind of good parts to it, that says we have a responsibility to take care of people regardless of their ability to pay."
The partnership will be all new for patients. Patient Raymond Beikman told RTV6 he's most concerned with service.
"The service is what's important to me," said patient Raymond Beikman. "As long as they keep good service and treat their patients like they are somebody, and not just somebody they are trying to get in and out. That's my concern."
Eileen Gardner, a frequent hospital visitor, said she likes the idea of the partnership.
"I have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. I have to come for an infusion every eight weeks," Gardner said. "I think it is a wonderful idea."
There will be a transition period, but all changes should be in place in about a year.
Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas