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Tuality-OHSU affiliation finally a done deal

COURTESY PHOTO - Tuality Healthcare, which operates hospitals in Hillsboro and Forest Grove, has entered into a clinical affiliation with Oregon Health & Science University that will provide greater opportunities for patient care and facilities expansion.In a move that puts an exclamation point on plans that have been in the works for a year, Tuality Healthcare and Oregon Health & Science University have formed a new partnership officials described as a win for both the Hillsboro nonprofit and the Portland teaching hospital.

A “clinical affiliation” deal announced Tuesday morning will effectively give patients a two-for-one deal in terms of the physician pool they can draw from across the metro area and pour at least $5 million a year into facility and equipment investments.

The agreement will integrate the organizations’ clinical services, allowing patients to access care at any OHSU- or Tuality-run facility.

“It includes the potential for even greater depth of care,” said Mark Rosenbaum, chair of the Tuality board of directors. “It will bring more physicians into Washington County for various levels of care.”

Tuality’s clinical operations will be managed by OHSU Healthcare under the direction of OHSU Partners, a recently-formed management company. Tuality will maintain its local presence, an independent board of directors and its employees and doctors, officials said.

The affiliation is “a 10 on a scale of one to 10” in terms of the excitement it’s generating at Tuality’s Forest Grove and Hillsboro hospitals, said President and CEO Manny Berman. Though the Washington County-based company had engaged in affiliation talks with Legacy Health System and Providence Health & Services in recent years, it was OHSU that won Berman and Rosenbaum over in the end.

That’s because OHSU’s standard-of-care philosophies most closely mirror Tuality’s, according to Rosenbaum. “There are a number of great healthcare providers in our state, and we’re meshing two of the best in terms of their community-oriented focus,” he said.

“They understand our work with Pacific University and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center,” added Berman. “As a teaching facility, OHSU needs places to expand their operation, and we can use the [patient] volume. It’s a natural fit.”

Board members had voted “consistently unanimously” in favor of every step that led toward this week’s final agreement, Rosenbaum said.

Besides the benefits of a wider collaboration, the agreement will give patients better continuity of treatment, Berman said. “We don’t do a lot of tertiary care, but OHSU does,” he noted. “To the patient it becomes one system. For doctors, it means shared protocols, shared information, shared educational resources and shared medical records when needed.”

OHSU and Tuality principals both believe in the benefits of tapping local resources such as Cornelius-based VGMHC and Pacific, which partners with Tuality to operate the Pacific University Health Professions Campus in Hillsboro.

“Our model is focused on retaining each organization’s strengths while finding new ways to improve outcomes for patients,” said OHSU President Dr. Joe Robertson. “It’s an Oregon-based approach to the emerging healthcare environment — creating value in communities thorough collaboration.”

Tuality and OHSU first began working together through the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center, which opened in 2002. Founded in 1918, Tuality serves a market area of 350,000 people. It has a medical staff of 300 doctors and other healthcare professionals and employs a staff of more than 1,200.

OHSU, the state’s only public academic health center, has 15,000 employees, operates two hospitals — OHSU Hospital and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital — and hosts more than 4,400 students and trainees.