The Dodge County Board on Wednesday approved an affiliation agreement that will make Fremont Health in Fremont part of the Omaha-based Methodist Health System.

The agreement creates a new organization called Methodist Fremont Health, which will be a Methodist subsidiary. The new organization will lease the Fremont Health Medical Center and a nursing home from Fremont Health for 50 years. Fremont Health will become Fremont Community Health Resources.

The new subsidiary will pay $3.3 million a year for 20 years and have the option of purchasing the properties after that time for $1.

Under the agreement, all current Fremont Health employees and physicians will be hired by Methodist Fremont Health, Methodist Physicians Clinic or both. Key clinical programs and services will continue in Fremont; patients also will have access to a larger network of specialists and programs.

Methodist Fremont Health also will continue to offer a variety of community health programs and provide sports medicine services to Midland University and area high schools.

The briefing package presented to the county board noted that Fremont Health has faced industry and market challenges for more than a decade. Declining hospital admission rates locally and nationwide, competition from hospitals in Omaha and the rest of the region and reductions in Medicare reimbursements pushed the Fremont system into the red in fiscal year 2016 and led it to re-evaluate its position.

Under the agreement, seven Fremont-area residents will sit on the new subsidiary’s board, made up of nine to 12 members, and two of the seven members would have seats on Methodist’s board.

The county board’s vote was the final one needed to complete the affiliation.

Both Methodist’s board and the Fremont Health Board of Trustees, who are appointed by the county board, previously had signed off on the agreement.

The agreement will become official Tuesday, when leaders from both organizations are scheduled to sign it.

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Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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