Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

Staff report

Obici Health System of Suffolk and Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare have agreed to a merger.  The boards of directors of both organizations have signed a letter of intent.

"We chose to affiliate with Sentara because of the high quality healthcare they provide and they are locally-based," says J. Samuel Glasscock, Chairman of the Board of Obici Health System.  "Sentara's leadership understands where we came from and the importance of community-based care."

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"Suffolk is not losing Obici Hospital," Glasscock is quick to add.  "We are gaining the resources and award-winning programs of Sentara Healthcare that will ensure high quality healthcare for our patients in the years ahead."

"The current economics of healthcare make it difficult for independent community hospitals like Obici to survive," Glasscock says.   "A large, integrated system like Sentara offers services, technology and financial strength that we simply cannot achieve as an independent hospital."

Historic name to remain, innovative services to be added

"Sentara respects the legacy of Amedeo and Louise Obici, whose generosity helped start this great community hospital," says Sentara CEO David L. Bernd.  "We'll maintain that historic link with the name Sentara Obici Hospital."  Bernd adds, "This merger will ensure that quality healthcare will be a part of the Suffolk and western Tidewater area for generations to come as the Obicis had intended.  Sentara Home Care already serves many patients in the Suffolk area and more than 400 Sentara employees call Suffolk home.  We look forward to being a greater part of the community."

In addition, the Obici Foundation will remain independent and receive a substantial sum of money to be used for programs to improve the health of our community such as care and medicine for the indigent, diabetes control, hypertension management and reduction in teen pregnancy and drug treatment. Sentara Healthcare will assume all of the outstanding debt of Obici Health System.

Discussions of healthcare challenges led to merger talks

Leaders from Obici and Sentara got together informally in the fall of 2004 to discuss current challenges in healthcare, including low reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, charity care, purchasing costs and possible business opportunities.

"One thing led to another," says Glasscock, "and pretty soon combining our two systems made perfect sense. 

Obici employees welcome with Sentara

Sentara Healthcare ranks among the best places to work in Hampton Roads, according to Inside Business magazine.  Sentara plans no layoffs, and years of service related to Obici's retirement system will be preserved.

Facts about Obici Health System

Obici Health System's headquarters is the modern 138-bed Obici Hospital on Route 10 in Suffolk.  The new hospital, built on the Planetree model of patient-centered care, replaced an older facility dating back to the 1950s.  Obici Health System serves Western Tidewater with four physician practices, five rehabilitation and physical therapy centers, occupational medicine and a community-based practical nursing curriculum.

Facts about Sentara Healthcare

Sentara Healthcare is the premier provider of hospital and healthcare services in Southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, featuring six hospitals, Level I trauma center, the Sentara Heart Hospital (2006), the first operational eICU system in the nation, Nightingale helicopter ambulance, primary care practices, a 238-member physician group, two integrated cancer centers, ten nursing homes and assisted living communities, three advanced imaging centers with digital same-day reporting, a physical therapy and rehabilitation network, the 325,000-member Optima Health Plan, home care services, Medical Transport fleet and the region's only comprehensive organ transplant program.