Three Health Systems Form Regional Alliance to Enhance Care, Benefit Communities

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Baptist Health, Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System have formed a regional alliance called Coastal Community Health.

Collaborating to better serve patients, Baptist Health, Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System have formed a regional alliance called Coastal Community Health. The three systems have a history of mutual support and cooperation and believe that by sharing best practices and achieving efficiencies of scale, they can deliver superior quality, health and value for their respective communities.

“This is a very important affiliation and an opportunity to position ourselves to thrive in the future as a highly integrated network of community-based, locally governed health systems,” said Hugh Greene, CEO of Baptist Health. “Together, we believe we can expand access to health care services in our regions and further our mission to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve. That community focus is our common core."

The three health systems serve separate but contiguous markets spanning from Brunswick to Jacksonville to St. Augustine and will continue to operate independently as locally governed, community-focused health systems. Baptist Health President and CEO Hugh Greene will serve as initial CEO of Coastal Community Health. Joe Gordy and Michael Scherneck will serve as executive vice presidents of Coastal. All three will maintain their roles as CEOs of their respective health systems.

“Our three health systems are strong, stable, and are trying to achieve similar things – greater efficiency, higher quality, superior value and better outcomes. We decided collaboration would help us accomplish more in less time,” said Michael D. Scherneck, president & CEO of Southeast Georgia Health System. “We share a passion for improving health in our communities, and we intend to create a measurable difference.”

The Coastal board of directors is comprised of 12 members – three each from Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System and six from Baptist Health. The board chair for the initial three-year term is H. Clark Alger from Flagler Hospital’s board, who retired as executive vice president of operations for Delta Airlines after a successful 32-year career. The vice chair is Michael D. Hodges from Southeast Georgia Health System, Inc.’s board, who currently serves as market president and director of Ameris Bank in Brunswick.

“Flagler Hospital was founded more than 126 years ago to care for the families of our community - and that purpose has never wavered,” added Joe Gordy, CEO of Flagler Hospital. “We believe in the value of community-based care and are pleased to affiliate with two health systems that share our commitment. Through collaboration, we can enrich our programs and service offerings while also achieving enhanced value for area residents and employers.”

In a time when many people are faced with high deductibles and employers are struggling with increasing health care costs, it is the responsibility of our health systems to lower costs, while at the same time, continuing to provide the highest quality care to the communities served. Understanding that the best way to reduce costs is to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital, several key initiatives of Coastal Community Health will focus on wellness, patient education, chronic disease management and care coordination.

To drive measurable improvements, a dozen collaborative workgroups comprised of leadership from each of the three health systems are looking at various initiatives to benefit adults and children in the communities served. Some include:

Enhancing child health services: The Players' Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville is expanding into Georgia, bringing child health education and safety promotion programs. In 2016, these programs will start expanding into St. Augustine and the reminder of St. Johns County.

Tele-health for adults and children: Expand availability of tele-health consultations from Jacksonville pediatric specialists to St. Augustine, Brunswick and Camden County in the next six to nine months. In addition, connect clinical care teams across the three health systems for select specialties such as endovascular neurosurgery. The team’s goal is to provide real-time tele-neurology consults in first quarter of 2016, and add an additional specialty consult six months later.

Disaster planning: The Coastal Disaster Planning and Mutual Aid Workgroup has prepared a Mutual Aid and Transfer Agreement in the event of a disaster such as a hurricane. Joint exercises across the three health systems will also be conducted and joint FEMA training.

Closing gaps in care: Care coordination for patients will be enhanced with the Patient Education and Engagement Workgroup looking at collaborations. Community Health Needs Assessments will also be evaluated to address the vital health needs in our communities.

The leadership teams from each health system are currently engaged in a collective strategic planning initiative, led by the Coastal Community Health Board of Directors, to help prioritize initiatives and set achievable targets for the affiliation’s first five years.


About Coastal Community Health
Coastal Community Health was established September 2015 as an alliance between Southeast Georgia Health System, Baptist Health and Flagler Hospital to create a contiguous health network spanning from Brunswick to Jacksonville to St. Augustine. With a shared belief that health care is best provided by locally governed, not-for-profit health systems serving their communities, Coastal Community Health’s goal is to strengthen each health system’s ability to achieve the best possible health at the best value for the communities we serve.

About Baptist Health
Baptist Health is a faith-based, mission-driven system in Northeast Florida comprised of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; and Wolfson Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. All Baptist Health hospitals, along with Baptist Home Health Care, have achieved Magnet™ status for excellence in patient care. Baptist Health includes the area’s only dedicated heart hospital; a comprehensive cancer center; orthopaedic institute; women’s services; neurosciences, including neurosurgery and two Joint Commission-certified stroke centers; a Bariatric Center of Excellence; a full range of psychology and psychiatry services; outpatient facilities; urgent care services; and primary and specialty care physicians’ offices throughout Northeast Florida. Recently opened facilities at Baptist include the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Tower and Baptist Clay Medical Campus. For more details, visit

About Southeast Georgia Health System
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit, health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, three immediate care centers, five family medicine centers, and employs more than 115 providers working in 20 different medical specialties at more than 40 locations. The Health System has multiple outpatient specialty care centers, including the only CyberKnife Center in the region and one of only four in Georgia, a Cancer Care Center accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and designation of Centers of Excellence in: Breast Care and Joint Replacement. In 2013, the Camden Campus was named the 2013 Small Hospital of the Year by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals and was also recognized as a 2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the United States. In 2015, the Brunswick Campus was rated High Performing in Hip Replacement in the U.S. News & World Report. For more information, call 855-ASK-SGHS (855-275-7447) or visit

About Flagler Hospital
Flagler Hospital is a 335 bed, acute care hospital that has been named one of America's Top 100 Community Hospitals by Becker's Hospital Review for the past two consecutive years. The hospital has operated as a not-for-profit healthcare institution in St. Augustine, Florida since its founding in 1889. Consistently ranked among the top 5% of all hospitals in the nation for both clinical excellence and patient safety, Flagler Hospital has earned accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, is a nationally accredited Chest Pain Center, a Joint Commission Primary Stroke Care Center, holds national accreditation for its total hip and knee replacement programs, and Center of Excellence Designation for its Bariatric Surgery Center. For more information about all of the hospital's award-winning programs and services, log on to

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Deborah Circelli
Baptist Health
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