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Akron's Summa Health Joins Michigan Health System

Updated 4:39 p.m., 7/9/2019

Summa Health officials announced Tuesday the Akron-based hospital system will become part of Beaumont Health, a much larger health system based in Detroit.

Summa officials signed a letter of intent on Monday to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Beaumont, pending approval of several state agencies in both Michigan and Ohio, said Summa President and CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny.

Summa has been struggling financially because of changes in the way healthcare companies are paid for services by the federal government, Deveny said.

“If you look at the community of Akron about 50 percent of the people that use services here are on Medicare and about 22 to 24 percent are on Medicaid. And with that those reimbursements don’t necessarily cover the cost,” he said.

Joining Beaumont will give Summa needed funds to grow and fill some gaps in medical services locally – including gastrointestinal and neurology, he said.

“We have even more need for primary care and behavioral health. They can help us with those,” Deveny said.

Many of Summa’s physicians are getting older and retiring and this deal would also provide a way for the health system to replace those employees, he said.

Beaumont is the largest health system in Michigan. Under the terms of the deal, the Summa name will remain in Akron, but the medical facilities will now be under the Beaumont umbrella.

Summa would, however, maintain a local board of directors, its own budget and its own capital plan, Deveny said.

“They come with the same kind of electronic medical records system that we are on so it won’t be disruptive to our physicians,” he said.

Cleveland Clinic expanded into the Akron area with its 2015 takeover of Akron General hospital, which also was a likely driver behind Summa’s move to join with a larger healthcare system, said Thomas Campanella, health finance professor at Baldwin Wallace University.

Even though Summa is being absorbed, Beaumont will likely leave control at the local level, he said.

“This could be a real asset," Campanella said. "And if there is further expansion geographically, there may be more even patients coming to the Summa system, including in the Akron area, which would be good for the economy,” Campanella said.

SummaCare, the health insurance company owned by the hospital system, is also part of the proposed deal. Beaumont, with $4.7 billion in total annual net patient revenue, does not currently operate an insurance company, said CEO John Fox.

“Frankly we are the largest health care system in Michigan that does not own a health plan, so when we looked at this opportunity that was definitely a point of interest for us,” Fox said.

Subject to regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

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