Large Jefferson City crowd questions potential health care merger
JEFFERSON CITY - More than 100 people gathered in Jefferson City Monday to learn more about the planned health care merger between MU Health Care and St. Louis-based SSM Health.
The merger was announced in August by the two health care companies, and Monday was the first of three meetings intended to inform the community of this plan.
Representatives from SSM and MU Health Care said the decision to merge was based on these six principles: keep jobs, think about unmet needs, optimize patient safety, recruitment and development, long term sustainability and ensuring professional futures.
“This can truly destroy all of the effort that has been put into this community,” Jefferson City resident Hallie Gibbs said. “Nobody knew about this, they tried to sneak it through.”
Gibbs has lived in Jefferson City since 1965 and believes this new system would require outsourcing to doctors outside of the capitol.
“You’d like to have high quality doctors with high pay, raising their children here and being part of the community,” Gibbs said. “That will not happen if this goes through.”
The merger is being finalized in response to St. Mary's desire to leave the Jefferson City area.
MU Health Care CEO Jonathan Curtright led the discussion on behalf of MU Health Care and tried to assure the residents that their plan has the neighbors' best interests in mind.
“We think this will be the best thing possible and we need your feedback to make that happen,” he said.
Residents also addressed their concern that university-owned health care systems often have higher prices. Curtright promised them he won’t let that happen at community hospitals in Jefferson City.
“You have my word that we will not put the academic cost structure on any of our community hospitals,” he said.