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November 15, 2012

5:30 P.M. UPDATE: Clark Memorial, Norton ‘exploring partnership possibilities’

LOUISVILLE — Clark Memorial Hospital and Norton Healthcare announced in a joint press release Thursday an agreement to explore a potential partnership.

The details of the possibilities are scant, but all options — including a potential acquisition of Clark Memorial by Norton Healthcare — are being explored, said Martin Padgett, president and CEO of Clark Memorial.

“Everything’s on the table,” Padgett said. “We took the approach from the communications perspective that we want to communicate that we’re just starting, so that all of our interested parties are aware during the whole process.”

Norton initiated the discussions with Clark Memorial a few months ago, Padgett said. Boards of both organizations approved the agreement, but the release emphasized that “nothing is final or definite.”

“Norton and Clark have worked together for years in a variety of ways, and we believe a stronger partnership could benefit both organizations,” Norton CEO Stephen A. Williams said in the release. “This is an important step for both of us in an effort to advance and align health care for Clark County and the Louisville region, and to place us in a better position to serve the community in the long term.”

Meetings between the boards of Clark Memorial and Norton Healthcare will not be open to the public, as Indiana law permits for strategic discussions to be held in executive sessions, Padgett said.

“But we are going to be completely transparent with the [Clark] commissioners and with the council, because they are a part of this process, to make sure they are informed all the way, as well as our team members and our medical staff,” Padgett added.

Any potential partnership between the two organizations would be of benefit to the communities of both Clark County and Louisville, said Thomas Johnson, Norton Healthcare company spokesman.

“We think it’s only going to be a positive for patient care, because that’s what really drives us every day,” Johnson said. “We’re seeing changes that are taking place in health care every day, and it’s just happening exponentially faster as each day goes by. So we really are looking at ways that we can improve the quality of care we deliver to patients, improve the accuracy of the care, the safety of patients when they’re in our care, and at the same time, how we eliminate waste, reduce cost and ultimately, at the end of the day, deliver a better product for patients. That’s what’s driving us.”

The partnership between Clark Memorial and Southern Indiana Rehab Hospital would not be affected by a partnership with Norton Healthcare, Padgett said.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to have the discussions with [Norton],” Padgett said. “We feel like it is a very natural fit for the two organizations, and it will really be a benefit for the community.”

Clark Memorial is owned by Clark County. Its board of directors is appointed by the Clark County Commissioners.

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