The evolution of healthcare in this country is bringing changes on the local level at Union Hospital in Dover. Changes in patient needs and expectations, changes in how patients receive medical care and changes in healthcare payment methods all point to the direction that Union Hospital in Dover is heading into the future.

"The people in our community who rely on Union Hospital and its medical staff for their healthcare remain our highest priority," said Bruce James, UH President and CEO. "Fulfilling our mission to provide high-quality healthcare services guides everything we have done, are doing now and will accomplish in the future."

James points to the opening last year of the new Union Hospital Lauren Emergency Center as an example of how the hospital is growing to meet community healthcare needs and patient preferences.

Emergency medical care is considered by many to be the single most important service provided by a community hospital. James said Union Hospital, which treats nearly 45,000 patients annually in the Emergency Center, invested $17.7 million in building and equipping the new center to ensure long-term capability and quality emergency treatment.

Union Hospital continues to expand its network of primary care and specialist physician practices. "Union Physician Services (UPS) is the hospital-operated network of providers and was created in response to healthcare reforms. The doctor and the staff are becoming more involved with their patients' lifestyle to promote health and wellness for an improved quality of life."

UPS operates four family health centers in Tuscarawas County and has more than 30 providers overall. The Newcomerstown Union Physician Services office is located at 60881 Country Road 9. The staff includes Christopher Coulson, DO, Jeffrey Burrier, MD, Denise Miller, DO, Teri Carpenter, MSW, LISA-S, and Lynne Wilson, a Certified Nurse Practitioner.

To improve access to patient care, patient appointments are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

Late last year the hospital announced that it had begun a process to merge with a much larger healthcare system. "Independent community hospitals in Ohio and around the country are facing the same reality," James said. We need to become part of a larger health system that has the resources and scale of operations needed for us to remain viable in today's environment."

James says Union Hospital is considering six proposals for a merger agreement. "The Board is evaluating these proposals for how each will address the expectations and priorities set by Union Hospital. We hope to make a choice and complete the merger by the end of this year," James said.

"Far from a point of desperation, Union Hospital presents itself to a merger partner from a position of strength as an attractive addition to a larger healthcare system," James said. "We have a beautiful hospital facility on a large 25-acre campus in Dover. Our employees and medical staff are fully invested and engaged with the hospital and their patients."

James said the opening of the new Emergency Center, the expansion of the UPS practices and patient services in the area, and the eventual affiliation with a larger healthcare system will contribute to Union Hospital's ability to maintain high-quality healthcare services for the community for generations to come.