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South Side News & Notes

8/29/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Akron General pursuing new strategic alignment

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron General Health System (AGHS) announced last week it has signed a nonbinding letter of intent and entered into exclusive discussions with a subsidiary of Community Health Systems Inc. and the Cleveland Clinic to form a strategic partnership that would provide clinical and capital resources, strengthening Akron General financially while preserving the health system’s mission of offering outstanding care for area residents, according to AGHS officials.

The proposed sale of the system’s assets to a newly formed joint venture would be intended to position Akron General for long-term stability and growth while also maintaining strong local leadership.

“The high level of clinical care, operational experience, medical innovation and best business practices brought together through this potential partnership will serve as a tremendous asset to our community, strengthening Akron General and ensuring our mission of service to the community for generations to come,” said Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover, president and CEO of AGHS.

During the past few months, a special committee of the Akron General board explored options and engaged in conversations with a number of organizations about possible relationships. After consideration, the board selected these potential partners based on specific criteria, and, most importantly, the board sought partners that would embrace the mission and culture of AGHS and advance its model of disease prevention and wellness, according to AGHS officials.

During negotiations, the parties will finalize details of the agreement, which will include commitments to: make significant capital investments to improve facilities, technology and hospital services; recruit new physicians to the community; maintain charity care; and appoint a local governing board of trustees consisting of community leaders and members of the hospital’s medical staff.

Stover said the combined strengths of Community Health Systems and the Cleveland Clinic provide unique advantages for AGHS.

“The Clinic is committed to developing a model of health care for the 21st century that reduces costs and drives quality to provide the best health care value,” he said. “We want to bring that model to our patients and to our community.”

Through its numerous affiliations locally and nationally, the Clinic also understands how to work effectively within a partnership, Stover added. Earlier this year, the Clinic announced it had formed a strategic alliance with Community Health Systems, a national operator of general acute care hospitals.

Stover said the next steps include due diligence and final negotiations, a process that could take several months to complete. Assuming the parties consent to the terms of the partnership, a definitive agreement would be expected later this year.


Prosecutor introduces dog to help victims

SUMMIT COUNTY — Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh has welcomed a canine staff member to her office.

Avery II is a 2-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix who has been specially trained to help crime victims and witnesses overcome their fears and the stress that often results from being part of a criminal case, according to officials.

“The criminal justice system can cause what is known as ‘secondary victimization’ to people who have already been traumatized,” Walsh said as Avery was introduced at an Aug. 26 press conference. “Children and people with disabilities can be especially fearful of talking about a traumatic situation in front of a courtroom full of strangers. Even coming to our office to talk with a prosecutor can be scary. Avery is specially trained to soothe victims so that they can clearly communicate what they’ve been through.”

Avery was trained and provided by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) at no cost. All of his food, grooming and other supplies are being donated by Pet Supplies Plus, and his veterinary care is provided free of charge by Stow Kent Animal Hospital, according to Walsh’s office.

“I am encouraged by the community’s support for our new facility dog program, and I am grateful to Canine Companions for Independence, Stow Kent Animal Hospital and Pet Supplies Plus for partnering with us,” Walsh said. “Avery will help many crime victims in Summit County.”

Avery will meet with victims of traumatic felony-level crimes to put them at ease while talking with prosecutors, Walsh said. The dog also can accompany children or disabled victims to court, she added.

To take on his job, Avery lived the first 15 months of his life with a puppy raiser who taught him basic commands and how to behave in public as an assistance dog. He then underwent testing and screening before spending another six months learning specialized commands. His handlers are Melanie Hart and Jean Johnson.

To learn more about Avery, go to his Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/SummitCountyProsecutorAveryII.


Kathleen Folkerth and Stephanie Kist contributed to these reports.

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