Updated: Christie to become joint owner of Carle surgery center

Updated 6:30 p.m. Thursday

CHAMPAIGN — Several years after trying to build its own outpatient surgery, Christie Clinic is now a joint owner of the Carle SurgiCenter in Champaign.

Terms of the deal, which become effective Friday, aren't being disclosed, but Carle spokeswoman Kelli Anderson said Christie Clinic is a minority owner of the facility at 1702 S. Mattis Ave. C.

Christie Clinic hoped to build a new surgery center in Champaign in 2006, but a state regulatory board wouldn't approve the project based on a lack of need for a second facility in the area.

Carle Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dennis Hesch said the Carle outpatient surgery center, which has five procedure rooms and is open to the community, has been running at 80 percent capacity for some time.

Christie also explored a deal in 2008 to buy half the former Danville HealthCare outpatient surgery center in Danville, but that didn't come to fruition.

The Danville surgery center was acquired last year by Provena United Samaritans Medical Center and is now called ACCESS.

Carle and Christie have formed a joint operating and ownership agreement for the Carle Champaign SurgiCenter, and Carle will continue to manage it, both organizations said in a written statement.

Many Christie Clinic physicians are already on staff at Carle Foundation Hospital and at the surgery center, and the new partnership will give Christie a voice in how the surgery center can meet the needs of its doctors and patients, "thereby encouraging use of this convenient, low-cost option for outpatient surgery," Hesch said.

How the deal will affect Provena Covenant Medical Center is unknown. Covenant spokeswoman Chrystal Senesac said Christie Clinic has been doing the majority of its outpatient surgeries at Covenant.

"I don't know how that will change," she said.

Christie Clinic officials weren't available for comment Thursday.

Christie's Chief Financial Officer Kenny Bilger said in the written statement that the arrangement gives Christie patients greater access to outpatient surgery services. And the clinic is committed to providing a less costly, more accessible and more convenient setting for many procedures, he said.

"Having the option of choosing an outpatient procedure when possible is a major enhancement," he said. "Giving Christie leadership and physicians a voice in operating decisions gives us added confidence this partnership will benefit our patients and physicians alike."

Patients come to outpatient surgery centers for procedures that don't require a more restrictive hospital setting, such as carpal tunnel and hernia surgeries. Other procedures done at the Carle surgery center include general surgeries, gynecology, podiatry, urology, orthopedic, pain management, gastroenterology and ear, nose and throat procedures, according to Carle.

From Carle's standpoint, Hesch said, Carle and Christie consolidating resources and usage at a single site should be an advantage for patients.

"We're hoping that will lead to the best possible clinical care for the site," he said.

While the impact of the Carle-Christie deal for Covenant is unknown, Senesac said, the hospital supports patient choices and is confident patients will choose what Provena hospitals have to offer.

"We absolutely support patient choice and people in our community having the option to choose where to have surgery," said Mike Brown, CEO of both Covenant and United Samaritans. "We have a new, state-of-the-art, free-standing surgery center in Danville — ACCESS — to make sure these kinds of options are available. We think it's likely that people from the Champaign-Urbana area will begin to choose to have some of their cosmetic surgery done in our new boutique center there."

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