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St. Mary’s parent buys Mexico hospital

SSM Health Care has purchased Mexico’s Audrain Medical Center and its nine MedChoice rural clinics.

Because of the close proximity of Audrain Medical Center to Jefferson City’s St. Mary’s Health Center and its clinics, SSM announced it is forming a Mid-Missouri Region, effective April 1.

SSM owns and operates 17 hospitals in four states — Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois.

Brent VanConia, president of St. Mary’s Health Center, will serve as interim president of SSM’s Mid-Missouri Region. He said the purchase of Audrain Medical Center and its clinics has been in the works since mid-December.

“This more than doubles our service area,” VanConia said.

SSM’s Mid-Missouri Region will serve an area population of 500,000 people instead of St. Mary’s Health Center and clinics’ current service population of 250,000. The number of employed SSM physicians will increase from 19 to 37.

This includes physicians directly employed by SSM, not ones from outside organizations such as Jefferson City Medical Group.

“Bringing Audrain Medical Center and MedChoice into the SSM Health Care system will allow us to enhance our health care ministry to better serve the people of Mid-Missouri,” said William P. Thompson, SSM president and CEO. “Audrain Medical Center has an excellent reputation for providing high quality care, and we are pleased to join them in serving the community.”

Audrain Medical Center is an 88-bed hospital located on 13 acres in Mexico. It provides various specialties, including cancer services, cardiology services, orthopedic care and pulmonology services.

The hospital will be renamed to reflect its affiliation with SSM.

VanConia said the SSM expansion and the creation of the Mid-Missouri Region give him a broader and more strategic role with SSM.

“We’re going to be expanding and looking at how we will do population health management, putting an emphasis on prevention, wellness and outpatient services,” VanConia said.

With the direction of health reform, he said that’s where the focus needs to be.

While SSM will enact several policy changes at Audrain when it takes over on April 1, it has an integration plan for Audrain Medical Center throughout the rest of the year.

“This is really a serious investment on SSM into this market,” VanConia said.

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