A shared services agreement recently formalized by the governing boards of Central Valley Medical Center in Nephi and the Gunnison Valley Hospital, should reduce hospital costs and improve the accessibility and quality of hospital services.

Mark Stoddard, Central Valley Medical Center admin-istrator, will now serve as administrator of both facilities and will coordinate the sharing of services and personnel. Stoddard told Juab County commissioners at a commission meeting on Monday that no money had exchanged hands in the agreement."It is a fairly innovative concept," said Stoddard.

Under the terms of the agreement each facility will remain organizationally and financially distinct. The boards of both facilities will remain distinct but will meet to review a common strategy four times a year.

The governing boards of the two facilities are also discussing shared service agreements with Payson Community Hospital and the University of Utah Medical Center.

"We believe this shared services network is a concept that could help many independent rural hospitals. We think we will achieve the shared service advantages of many hospital chains without the inflexibility and high overhead that typically accompanies affiliation with a hospital corporation," said Stoddard.

He said at a meeting held at the Central Valley Community Medical Center in May, representatives of all four hospitals met to discuss ways they could share services in a manner that would reduce costs without decreasing quality.

Last March, the governing board of the Gunnison Valley Hospital contracted with Dr. Richard McDermott, a Provo-based hospital consultant, to provide a management review of their facility. Stoddard said at that time the hospital was losing money, and the board was concerned about complaints from employees and some members of the medical staff who felt the hospital lacked direction.

The Central Valley Medical Center is currently operated by a foundation that assumed responsibility for the operation of the old Juab County Hospital in 1985. Stoddard said one of the problems of the Gunnison Valley Hospital, according to a report presented to the governing board, was that the facility is so small it is difficult to operate in a cost effective manner. This is a problem shared by many rural hospitals, said Stoddard.

Prior to 1985, said Stoddard, the hospital in Nephi had routinely required a subsidy from the county to meet deficits. In some years this deficit ran as high as $280,000. The Central Valley Medical Center has required no subsidies since 1985.