Athens, OH,
18:46 PM

University Medical Associates to join OhioHealth in best interest of patients, university and the community

OhioHealth and the Ohio University physician group, University Medical Associates (UMA), are moving forward with previously announced plans to join forces. A new organization, the OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College, will be established and consolidate the clinical practices of OhioHealth Athens Medical Associates and UMA.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved the affiliation at their January 20 meeting.

“The intent is to improve local healthcare,” said Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, OhioHealth senior vice president and chief medical officer. “By acting as a single group we’ll be better able to align services and coordinate patient care.”

“We expect the move will have a very positive impact on both healthcare in the region and the teaching and research missions of Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Jim Sammons, MD, president of University Medical Associates Board of Directors. “We also anticipate that the affiliation will help the region attract and retain quality physicians by offering an attractive practice environment that builds on the strengths of both organizations.”

Attracting a growing number of physicians to the community is critical for the ongoing care of patients and the advancement of the Heritage College’s academic and research missions.

“Rural areas have an additional barrier to attracting physician talent, since only 17% of medical residents seek to practice in a small community,” stated Hugh Thornhill, president of the OhioHealth Physician Group. “It’s in the best interest of both our organizations and the community that we align strategically to make this region a great place for doctors to work. OhioHealth brings its expertise in clinical operations to the table and Ohio University provides high quality opportunities for research and teaching.”

“This affiliation is a major accomplishment for the Heritage College, and it will serve as a foundation for many great initiatives in education, collaborative research and care delivery for years to come,” said Kenneth Johnson, DO, executive dean of the Heritage College. “It provides our physician faculty the support of an organization with clinical expertise and operational and administrative strengths. As longtime partners of OhioHealth, we know this partnership will greatly enhance opportunities for faculty recruitment, shared research projects and clinical education for our medical students and residents.”

Under the resolution adopted today, OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College will become the designated faculty practice plan for the Heritage College. This practice will not be the sole source of teaching physicians as many other physicians locally and regionally actively teach at the college and have academic appointments. However, having a designated faculty practice plan is a requirement of college accreditation. The Heritage College will continue to identify physicians it needs on faculty, and will work with OhioHealth to recruit and place these doctors in community-based practice settings.

No change for patients

Patients of the practices will not see a change in their physicians or office locations and can expect communication regarding the change as implementation plans are finalized.

The integration of the practices is anticipated to be completed in May 2017.

The move is a logical next step that builds on an extensive history of collaboration between OhioHealth and the Heritage College. The two organizations have long been partners in training medical students and residents. Doctors Hospital was one of the original training sites for the college when it opened in 1976. OhioHealth hospitals have since been key training sites for both medical students and residents. In 2012, OhioHealth and the college announced an expanded agreement recognizing OhioHealth as the Preeminent Education Partner for the college’s Dublin campus, which opened in 2014.

About University Medical Associates

University Medical Associates is currently the designated faculty practice plan for the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. It is made up of 35 physicians and 4 nurse practitioners who serve patients in the Athens community and are also teaching faculty at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, take care of student patients at Campus Care, and serve community patients through several physician office locations.

About OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital Athens Medical Associates

Athens Medical Associates is a multi-specialty physician practice owned and operated by OhioHealth and OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital. The physicians in the practice serve patients in Athens and surrounding communities. Many of the physicians also have teaching appointments at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Physicians employed by OhioHealth are also part of the OhioHealth Physician Group. The OhioHealth Physician Group through its various entities employs 725+ in 24 counties in Ohio.

About OhioHealth

OhioHealth is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit, charitable, healthcare outreach of the United Methodist Church.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, OhioHealth has been recognized as one of the top five large health systems in America by Truven Health Analytics, an honor it has received six times. It is also recognized by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” and has been for 10 years in a row, 2007-2016.

Serving its communities since 1891, it is a family of 28,000 associates, physicians and volunteers, and a network of 11 hospitals, 50+ ambulatory sites, hospice, home-health, medical equipment and other health services spanning a 47-county area.

OhioHealth hospitals include OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, OhioHealth Doctors Hospital, OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital, OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital, OhioHealth Hardin Memorial Hospital, OhioHealth Marion General Hospital, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, OhioHealth Shelby Hospital and OhioHealth Rehabilitation Hospital. For more information, please visit our website at

About the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni practice in primary care and nearly 60 percent practice in Ohio. The state’s only osteopathic medical school, the Ohio Legislature founded the college in 1975 at Ohio University’s campus in Athens, Ohio, and the medical school has since added campus locations in Cleveland and Dublin, Ohio For more information, please visit our website at CARE LEADS HERE.