In August, Mercy announced it was teaming up with Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine. And in October, Mercy acquired Cincinnati SportsMedicine & Orthopaedic Center.

“In both cases it was an opportunity to better the quality of care we provide,” says Dr. Dan Roth, chief medical officer and president of Mercy Health Physicians.

By combining its six area hospitals with the network of physicians, physical therapists and training facilities of both practices, Mercy, which had 10 orthopaedic doctors on its staff before, now has direct access to an additional 25 physicians at both practices.

“It’s really a case of the whole being better than the sum of the parts,” says Roth.

While Wellington’s 18 physicians will remain independent, but provide exclusive services for Mercy, Mercy will employ Wellington’s staff of 200 therapists, trainers and assistants. At Cincinnati SportsMedicine, all seven physicians joined Mercy’s staff, as did its 26 therapists and trainers.

Six Wellington locations in Anderson Township, Blue Ash, Eastgate, Oxford, West Chester and Sardinia are now co-branded with Mercy Health as are five Cincinnati SportsMedicine locations in Montgomery, Springdale, Mason, Western Hills and Crestview Hills, Ky.

Specialty groups are increasingly joining primary care practices in affiliating with hospitals in the face of changes in health care and increasing costs of operation.

“We decided we weren’t going to be the last called to dance floor. The timing was right and the hospital was eager to work with us,” says Dr. Robert Heidt Jr., chairman of Wellington’s board and son of late Dr. Robert Heidt Sr., who started Wellington 45 years ago.

He sees several benefits from affiliation.

“We feel Mercy is committed to being a regionally-based center of excellence in orthopaedics,” he says.

Additionally, Heidt says Mercy, like Wellington, is committed to community outreach.

“It’s not just going down and throwing our ads on Great American Ball Park,” he says. “It’s going to the high schools and serving them. Doing education, giving free medical care, covering their games and running their training centers.”

Dr. Frank Noyes, CEO of Cincinnati SportsMedicine, echoed that.

“We’re both very active in our communities, giving back to our high schools, local sports organizations, professional sports teams and more to help the people we serve. Together, we can leverage our strengths,” he said in a statement.

Finally, Heidt says, the partnership allows Wellington and Mercy physicians to work much closer together “to determine what is the best direction for procedures to be done. Not just on a cost basis, but from an outcomes basis. This is much easier to do when you’re working with larger numbers than smaller numbers.”

Patient reaction has been positive, Heidt says.

“In the first month, we had over 7,000 more calls than we did last year. People are realizing this is a good system and we’re good bedfellows and we’re excited. We won’t rest on our laurels.”