The Johnson Clinic, with locations in Rugby, Dunseith, Maddock and Towner, has been purchased by the Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby.
The official agreement was signed Aug. 1, though plans to integrate the two centers have been ongoing since early 2008. Under the agreement the Johnson Clinic will change its name to the Heart of America Johnson Clinic.
Jeff Lingerfelt, CEO for the Heart of America Medical Center, said the integration will help in recruitment efforts and allow the hospital and clinic to be financially sound.
"The big thing is that it will allow us a platform to recruit doctors to a fully integrated system, and that's critical. Throughout rural North Dakota, the challenge is to recruit family practice doctors," Lingerfelt said.
"We have a lot of people who are driving great distances for health care or who are having to wait for health care," he added.
Lingerfelt said that two mid-level practitioners have already been recruited, and he attributes that to the newly integrated system. Heart of America also hopes to recruit two additional physicians.
For patients who visit the clinic, no changes will be immediately noticeable. Lingerfelt hopes more services can be made available as more providers are added.
"Something we will try to do as we add more providers is to look at opening an after-hours clinic or a Saturday clinic. We want to better serve the community," Lingerfelt said.
The Heart of America Medical Center has had a long established relationship with the Johnson Clinic, and as the two entities worked toward integration, they made sure all of the bases were covered.
"A big thing we had to work on was the software. The clinic had a completely different software package, and we had to come up with an integrated software package," Lingerfelt said.
"And when the agreement was signed, the doctors at the clinic went from working on their own to working for the hospital, and all of that had to be negotiated out. There weren't many things we didn't cover beforehand," he added.