According to Blessing and Hannibal Clinic leaders, no one is expected to lose their jobs during the merger process.

In February 2016, Hannibal Clinic and Blessing Health System announced an affiliation agreement. The two entities have decided to take that relationship further and fully merge. The merger was announced Wednesday, Dec. 27 by Blessing Health System President and CEO Maureen Kahn and Hannibal Clinic CEO Dr. Erik Meidl.

According to Blessing and Hannibal Clinic leaders, no one is expected to lose their jobs during the merger process. The day-to-day operations of both entities are also expected to remain the same. Hannibal Clinic is expected to retain its name post-merger.

Discussions of a full merger have taken place for at least six months, after the initial affiliation proved beneficial to both the Clinic and Blessing. Efforts to fully merge are ongoing, but all of the major documents have been signed.

Meidl said the affiliation agreement announced in February was an important stepping stone toward the full merger. He said as a result of the affiliation, cardiology and urology services were added to Hannibal Clinic while Blessing started using a clinic physicians for robotic surgeries.

“Those clinical interactions have been very helpful to us,” Meidl said.

One of the tasks yet to be completed is an integrated information network in which physicians at Blessing Hospital, for example, can access medical records for a patient primarily seen at Hannibal Clinic.

The merger places all Hannibal Clinic physical assets, physicians and staff under the Blessing Health System corporate structure as a taxable entity. Hannibal Clinic is a for-profit entity while Blessing is a not-for-profit. The clinic will remain a for-profit entity in the Blessing system as to not disrupt the tax base in Hannibal and Marion County.

Funds generated by the Clinic will be reinvested back into the system.

The merger, leaders say, will more easily facilitate the purchase of more expensive and more modern equipment.

“As one organization, Hannibal Clinic and Blessing Health System can better coordinate building a vibrant practice of physicians so that patients will have greater access to advanced, specialty care close to home,” Meidl said.

The theme of greater care closer to home was echoed by several people in positions of leadership.

“When we talk about our merger with Blessing, we saw them as a regional partner who had a commitment to local care but who also had the foresight to look out and ask how can we improve the community,” said Dr. Roderick Bartlett, Hannibal Clinic's secretary/treasurer.

Leaders at a Wednesday press conference agreed the two organizations shared the same values and mission.

Physicians at Hannibal Clinic will have privileges at Blessing's facilities, including Blessing Hospital, and vice-versa. Blessing Health System is the umbrella system for Blessing Hospital and Illini Community Hospital, both in Quincy, Ill., as well as Blessing Physician Services, Denman Services, and the Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The addition of more than 300 Hannibal Clinic employees will bring Blessing's total employee base to around 3,500.

Hannibal Clinic providers will continue to see patients at Hannibal Regional and Hannibal Clinic locations, in addition to becoming members of Blessing Health System. Clinic physicians will continue to provide care at the James E. Cary Cancer Center and the Northeast Missouri Ambulatory Surgery Center.

Staff members at Hannibal Clinic were notified of the merger in a staff memo Wednesday morning and were invited to a town hall question-and-answer session with Meidl and Kahn at noon Wednesday.

“It is Blessing Health System’s goal to work collaboratively with physicians and other providers in our region who share our commitment to deliver superior outcomes, innovative care and unparalleled experiences,” said Kahn. “We are proud to have the physicians and staff of Hannibal Clinic join Blessing Health System.”

Hannibal Clinic celebrated its 60th anniversary earlier this year. Founded in 1957 by four physicians, Hannibal Clinic has grown to become a multi-specialty group.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com