Civista Health System of Charles County announced today that it has signed an agreement to become a member of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), effective July 1, 2011.

Civista Health, whose largest component is the 130-bed Civista Medical Center, has been operated by UMMS under a management agreement that began in 2009. The renewal terms of the 2009 agreement included a provision for UMMS and Civista Health to affiliate, subject to the approval of both the UMMS and Civista Health Boards.

"The past two years have given us an opportunity to experience what a full partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System could mean for Civista Health and the communities we serve," said Sara Middleton, Chair of Civista Health's Board. "UMMS possesses the resources and scale to help us fulfill our mission to provide the finest in health care services to Charles County and all the citizens of Southern Maryland."

Civista Health and Civista Medical Center will continue to be governed by their own boards and will retain their own foundation. The Civista Health Board will have the ability to nominate a member to the UMMS Board.

"Health care is very local, and to realize our goals of providing effective health care in the communities in which we own hospitals, we must have vibrant, local boards as partners. We are very pleased with the partnership that has formed with Civista and look forward to our future together," stated Robert Chrencik, president and CEO of UMMS.

Noel Cervino, Civista Health's Chief Executive Officer, noted that the health system has achieved significant progress during the past two years under UMMS's management. The collaborative relationships between the Civista Board of Directors, Medical Staff, Management and Employees improved significantly to enable the organization's turnaround. In addition, a solid working relationship between hospital leadership, the Charles County Commissioners and the Charles County delegation formed a strong basis for the improvements that followed.

Working with the UMMS quality leadership, Civista Medical Center implemented a number of clinical quality best practices and Civista is now among the leaders throughout the Medical System in Core Measures, which are nationally recognized indicators of clinical quality. Charles County is underserved in terms of physicians relative to population, and with the assistance of the UMMS physician recruiting division and in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Civista has successfully recruited a number of new physicians to the area. The medical staff and Charles County residents have demonstrated their enhanced trust in Civista by increasing their utilization of the Emergency Department. Inpatient and surgical services volumes have increased as well.

Civista has increased the size of its campus through several land and building acquisitions, growing by 40% over the past two years. Financially, following five consecutive years of losses, Civista Medical Center experienced three consecutive years of operating gains, assuring that it will meet its financial commitments and reserve funds for needed capital upgrades in the future.

"This is a wonderful partnership that has already helped the citizens of Charles County and will continue to help meet the health care needs of our community for years to come," stated Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton.

Cervino and Chief Financial Officer Erik Boas and Chief Medical Officer Mark Dumais, M.D., were employees of UMMS under terms of the management agreement and will continue in their current positions. Employees of the hospital will remain locally directed and employed by Civista Health, and the existing Civista pension and benefit plans will not be affected by the affiliation.