Casper medical group joins with Douglas hospital

ACasper medical group has joined Memorial Hospital of Converse County, establishing a stronger Casper foothold for the Douglas-based facility.

Western Medical Associates has two offices on either side of Casper. It employs five doctors, plus a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner, practicing family medicine. It also has an imaging center. Its merger with the Douglas hospital was heralded by both parties as a move toward local control of health care decisions in central Wyoming, a particularly timely statement in the wake of Banner Health’s purchase of Wyoming Medical Center.

“As our local healthcare environment begins to change, we felt it was important to find a partner who can support and expand our healthcare services in Casper,” Western said in a statement sent to patients Monday.

“Healthcare as an industry is changing, not only nationally but in our state,” MHCC’s CEO, Matt Dammeyer, said in a statement. “When we spoke with WMA, we realized that this would be a great partnership and ultimately serve patients’ needs. It allows us to work together and support further excellence in healthcare in our region.”

Terry Moss, the hospital’s practice administrator, said Western had shared a physical space with MHCC physicians and that the Douglas hospital had a sizable presence in Natrona County before this deal, which will significantly expand that footprint. He said the hospital will also try to bring more specialty services, like OBGYN care, to Casper.

“Western medical is just a hardworking, wonderful Wyoming health care group,” he said. “That’s important. We don’t brag enough about that. We don’t brag enough about Wyoming health care and how important it is.”

The local health care landscape is indeed changing. In August, Wyoming Medical Center was sold to Banner Health for more than $200 million in total. Generally speaking, such acquisitions further spread consolidation in an area as the new player in town — in this case, Banner — looks to strengthen its foothold and then broaden health services to be more inclusive.

Moss said that the acquisition’s announcement, which comes about a month after WMC’s, was purely coincidental. He praised WMC as a vital part of Wyoming’s health care infrastructure and that MHCC’s move was to promote community care within the state.

“Memorial Hospital of Converse County is a regionally focused Wyoming healthcare system not owned or managed by companies based outside of Wyoming,” the clinic wrote in its letter to patients. “Casper is our home and we believe local healthcare decisions should be made and kept locally.”

In an email, Karl Hertz, the chief operations officer of the MHCC, said the hospital and Western began talking about “joining forces” in 2018, conversations that “gained momentum” earlier this year.

“MHCC’s unique healthcare delivery model puts the patient at the center of everything MHCC does,” he wrote. “The providers and staff at Western Medical share in that passion and in the independent Wyoming spirit which drives both our organizations. As healthcare changes in our state it is important for likeminded organizations to work towards common goals. In this case; locally driven patient-centered care.”

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