Delaware Public Media

Nanticoke officially merges with Peninsula Regional Health System

Jan 2, 2020

Sussex County’s Nanticoke Health Services has joined with the Salisbury-based Peninsula Regional Health System. The move is part of a plan to create a larger health system serving the Delmarva Peninsula. 

It became official as of Jan. 1. Peninsula is providing Nanticoke with $70 million in capital over the next seven years, and Nanticoke gets two seats on a newly created system-wide board of directors. 

McCready Health of Crisfield, MD, is expected to join the system later this year. 

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital President Penny Short says with the rising cost of pharmaceuticals and the loss of a rural designation from the federal government, the move to merge has been a long time coming for Nanticoke. 

“It’s certainly getting more challenging in the turbulent health care arena for a small independent organization to survive,” said Short. “So we’ve certainly been out there for, probably, the past three or four years, knowing that we would have to partner at one point in time.”   

Each respective hospital in the new system will retain its own name. Officials say a branding study is underway and a new name for the larger health system is expected to be revealed in late Spring.  

Peninsula’s President and CEO Steve Leonard says the deal could also mean added clinical resources for Nanticoke.

“We’ve had high-level conversations around different service lines being better equipped to work together whether it be in the cardiac area, or the cancer area or the ambulatory services area. I would probably expect those areas to occur sooner,” said Leonard.   

Leonard says this could mean new locations for care in Eastern Sussex County.

The provider groups from each of the health systems are also merging to form a separate business entity with about 200 total providers including primary care and specialty offices.

The three health systems are not using the same Electronic Medical Records system, but Leonard says there are plans to convert Nanticoke and McCready to the Epic platform.

There are no plans for staffing changes at any of the hospitals, but the new health system plans to eventually employ nearly 5,000 people, according to a Nanticoke press release.