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Rockdale Medical forms partnership with Piedmont

Officials from LifePoint Hospitals, Rockdale Medical Center and Piedmont Healthcare announced Thursday a new partnership between RMC and Piedmont. Shown here are, left to right, Dr. Ronnie Brownsworth, chief executive officer of Piedmont Clinic; Robert Klein, Central Group chief operating officer for LifePoint Hospitals; Scott Raplee, Central Group president for LifePoint; Deborah Armstrong, chief executive officer of RMC; Farley Reardon, vice president of development for LifePoint; Greg Hurst, president and chief operating officer of Piedmont Healthcare; and David Dill, president and chief operating officer for Lifepoint. (Staff Photo: Alice Queen)

Officials from LifePoint Hospitals, Rockdale Medical Center and Piedmont Healthcare announced Thursday a new partnership between RMC and Piedmont. Shown here are, left to right, Dr. Ronnie Brownsworth, chief executive officer of Piedmont Clinic; Robert Klein, Central Group chief operating officer for LifePoint Hospitals; Scott Raplee, Central Group president for LifePoint; Deborah Armstrong, chief executive officer of RMC; Farley Reardon, vice president of development for LifePoint; Greg Hurst, president and chief operating officer of Piedmont Healthcare; and David Dill, president and chief operating officer for Lifepoint. (Staff Photo: Alice Queen)

CONYERS — Rockdale Medical Center celebrated two major milestones in the hospital’s history on Thursday — observing its 60th anniversary and announcing a new partnership with Piedmont Healthcare.

RMC Chief Executive Officer Deborah Armstrong called the partnership a “new chapter” for the hospital as it joins with Piedmont to form a clinical affiliation.

Officials said the Piedmont partnership will help the hospital expand quality health care services while making it possible for patients to receive that care close to home.

“It’s been very important in today’s difficult health care world to establish partnerships,” said Armstrong.

Greg Hurst, chief operating officer of Piedmont Healthcare, said the partnership with RMC was forged on a foundation of quality care and a commitment to continuing to improve that quality.

“Clinical affiliations between community hospitals and regional tertiary care providers are becoming best practice across the country for improving regional health care delivery systems and extending collaboration of quality care,” Hurst said in a statement.

Speaking to a gathering of about 150 community leaders at RMC Thursday, Hurst said Piedmont has already worked with RMC in its application to expand cardiovascular services and will continue to work on the development of that program. He also said that RMC’s 300 medical staff members will be able to apply for membership in Piedmont Clinic, a network of more than 1,000 members in which quality, service, effectiveness and safety metrics are used to ensure improvements in patient care.

Robert Klein, Central Group chief operating officer for LifePoint Hospitals, which owns RMC, told the gathering that change is the norm in the health care industry.

“If we aren’t changing in the health care business, we are falling behind,” he said.

“What we are talking about today is a very needed change to strengthen the market position of your community and your hospital for the next 60 years,” he added.

Klein said LifePoint made a commitment in 2009 to invest in RMC and in the community. The result, he said, is that LifePoint has committed $34 million in capital during the past five years to grow services, has paid $2 million in property taxes and provided $9 million in charity care in the past year alone.

“We know how important this hospital is to this community,” he said.

LifePoint was also committed to finding a strong partner to expand services at RMC, Klein said.

“When LifePoint looks for partners in markets there has to be a common vision between the two parties, and in this vision it is strengthening services, keeping patients close to home, not moving patients away, not having patients go somewhere else, but keeping services close to home tied in with a very strong partner with a common commitment. … and we have found that partner with Piedmont. I know Piedmont has found that partner with us, and we are very excited about that.”

Not-for-profit Piedmont Healthcare is the parent company of five hospitals, two employed physicians groups, and Piedmont Healthcare Foundation, the philanthropic entity for private fundraising initiatives.