Corbin’s oldest continuing primary care medical practice has merged with a local faith-based health care group, and both sides are calling the move a positive one for patients.
The practice of Dr. Michael Watts and Truman Perry is now officially part of Grace Community Health Center. The final portions of the deal were signed last Thursday.
Michael Stanley, CEO of Grace Community Health Care, said the acquisition is a significant one for the group since Watts and Perry had quite a large practice — between 9,000 and 11,000 patients.
“They have a rich history and a lot of patients. I think their patient population will be the ones who reap the benefits,” Stanley said. “We expect improved outcomes for the patient through a big focus on quality measures.”
Perry said the move has been three years in the making, and was necessitated by the changing health care environment brought on by the Affordable Care Act, and the ability to now offer services that they could not give their patients before.
“They will give us really good support. I think it’s a good fit,” Perry said. “There are so many compliance requirements and things you have to deal with now as far as being a solo practitioner … we really are all getting sort of squeezed out they because are so cumbersome that you can’t really do it without the support of a larger group.”
Grace Community COO Jeff Campbell said one of the biggest of those requirements is migration to an electronic medical records system. The move is expensive and complicated. Many private practices often have difficulty discerning an appropriate system to adopt and lack the expertise to implement such a change.
“It’s a federal mandate, but it’s a very good thing,” Campbell said, noting that it cuts down on safety concerns, and also allows for doctors to have instant access to records regardless to which doctor a patient has seen in the Grace Community Healthcare system.
“We are tied in across all of our organization,” Campbell said.
Grace Community runs it’s own main clinic in Gray, and acquired Women’s Health Associates in 2014. It also has numerous medical providers in Knox, Clay, Leslie and Bell counties, and provides school nursing services for Clay, Bell and Leslie County School Districts, and the Corbin Independent School District.
Campbell said that the organization is also switching to a new system called “Epic” which will allow Grace to share records with the Baptist Health System.
“The technology allows that transfer of information securely between the organizations so we can make qualified decisions about care.”
Stanley said that all of Watts and Perry’s 29 employees are coming on board with Grace Community. Among those are three physicians and four non-physician providers.
“I just think it’s a good fit all around because they specialize in rural areas … community medicine and family medicine, and they have a lot of outpatient clinics,” Perry said. “The fact that they are faith-based doesn’t hurt either.”