SANDUSKY - Toledo-based ProMedica Health System is discussing a possible affiliation with Providence Hospital.
ProMedica owns several hospitals in the area, including Toledo Hospital and Flower Hospital in Sylvania.
Providence Hospital, with 270 licensed beds, has been in Sandusky since 1902 and is operated by the Sisters of St. Francis, which has headquarters in Sylvania. Providence is one of two Sandusky hospitals; the other is the 311-bed Firelands Community Hospital.
ProMedica and Providence officials will meet during the next three months to discuss potential types of affiliation and they hope to make a decision by early March, said Rose Glenn, a ProMedica spokeswoman.
Ms. Glenn declined to say whether an affiliation might include ProMedica buying Providence Hospital.
"We hate to assume any single model. We're looking at how we might work together," Ms. Glenn said.
She said ProMedica has a variety of affiliation agreements with hospitals in the region, ranging from part ownership or operating joint programs to owning hospitals.
Providence officials could not be reached for comment.
The hospital had been in affiliation talks with Firelands for the last year but those talks appear to be off now that ProMedica has entered the picture, according to George Mylander, chairman of the board for Firelands Community Hospital. Mr. Mylander said he isn't worried about any new competitive threat if ProMedica has a stronger presence in the area.
"Our philosophy has been that we like local control and we have been very successful in that regard," he said.
Hospital systems sometimes purchase smaller hospitals to gain access to referrals from surrounding regions. But Ms. Glenn said that is not the goal or intent of the affiliation talks with Providence.
If the two sides reach an agreement, Providence would become part of ProMedica's eastern region, which includes the 70-bed Bay Park Community Hospital that ProMedical is building in Oregon and St. Francis Health Care Center in Green Springs, O., a long-term acute care facility that ProMedica manages.
ProMedica owns the Defiance Hospital and is building a 62-bed hospital there. The organization owns Bixby Medical Center in Adrian, Herrick Memorial Hospital in Tecumseh, has a one-third ownership in Lima Memorial Hospital in Lima, and owns Fostoria Community Hospital in Fostoria.