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      Iron River hospital joins health partners

      NORTHSTAR Health System in Iron River has joined as an affiliate of Superior Health Partners (SHP).

      The SHP Board of Directors took official action Tuesday to accept the affiliation contract with NORTHSTAR.

      NORTHSTAR inclusion in the SHP health delivery organization brings the number of Upper Peninsula hospitals under the SHP umbrella to nine. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the tenth SHP affiliate.

      SHP affiliates hospitals now include: Baraga County Memorial Hospital, Bell Hospital, Dickinson County Health System, Helen Newberry Joy Hospital, Marquette General, Munising Memorial Hospital, NORTHSTAR Health System, Portage Health System, Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

      â??Joining SHP is congruent with the strategic direction of NORTHSTAR Health System. The SHP alliance with eight other hospitals in the Upper Peninsula and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will strengthen efforts to improve quality and patient experience while lowering costs. A notable benefit leveraged by SHP membership includes an infrastructure necessary to meet the challenges we face with healthcare reform including population health management,â?? said Connie Koutouzos, CEO of NORTHSTAR.

      â??SHP is indeed fortunate to have NORTHSTAR onboard as an affiliate. SHP is pressing forward on a variety of fronts to define a unique unified definition of the total patient experience within the U.P. affiliate hospital chain. We are tremendously excited that NORTHSTAR is now another strong link in that chain. By combining resources and managing the talented combined pool of healthcare providers, SHP is focusing on enhancing quality healthcare services and medical treatment delivery in the Upper Peninsula,â?? added Gary Muller, CEO of Marquette General Hospital and SHP.

      The SHP alliance in no way diminishes U.P. community hospital independence according to Muller. But the affiliation with SHP will strengthen each hospitalâ??s ability to compete with out-of-state healthcare providers, which in recent years have systematically tried to steer specific healthcare services out of the U.P.

      Patient â??outmigrationâ?? accounts for at least $80 million of healthcare funding that leaves the U.P. annually, primarily to Wisconsin.

      SHP was established in 2010 by MGH and Bell Hospital. It has since grown in both the number of affiliates and depth of mission. It was cited in the Wall Street Journal in 2011 as a nationwide model for increasing healthcare quality through unification and alignment efforts.