AUBURN — DeKalb Health and Fort Wayne-based Parkview Health have signed a letter of intent to develop a strategic partnership, the organizations said in a statement.

The two organizations said they share a commitment to delivering high-quality, community-centric care, and the partnership will allow for continued growth of health care services in DeKalb County.

“The DeKalb Health Board is pleased to be able to choose Parkview Health as our new partner,” said Doug Morrow, chair of the DeKalb Health board, in a statement. “Both organizations share the same commitment to provide high-quality health care to their community. We view this decision as an opportunity to ensure the best health care for the DeKalb County community into the future.”

“A great deal of time was spent making sure Parkview is a good fit for DeKalb and vice versa. Ultimately, we knew that we shared the same objective: To do what is best for the residents of DeKalb County – and the entire region – to ensure ongoing, long-term access to high-quality care,” said Dave Haist, chair of the Parkview Health board, in the statement.

“The decision to affiliate with Parkview Health will allow us to carry on our mission in a time where the health care industry is radically changing,” Tasha Eicher, president and CEO of DeKalb Health, said in the statement. “We are looking forward to partnering with a health system that has demonstrated their commitment to high-quality care and lives out their mission to provide excellent care to every person, every day. We believe the affiliation will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality care to DeKalb County and preserve our service to the community for many years to come.”

“DeKalb and Parkview share a relentless commitment to excellence and establishing partnerships that strengthen the foundation of health and well-being for our communities,” Mike Packnett, president and CEO of Parkview Health, said in the statement. “We also share a long-held dedication to investing time, talent and resources in the communities we serve. Together, we can honor DeKalb’s history and continue to build on its success, and we look forward to partnering with them to serve DeKalb County.”

DeKalb Health said its leaders considered how a larger health system could not only support and grow the hospital’s services but also contribute to ongoing projects within the community and enhance partnerships with area employers to identify opportunities to improve the value of health care.

Leaders at some of the largest employers in DeKalb County weighed in on the significance of a partnership between DeKalb Health and Parkview Health.

“With the growing complexity of health care, affiliation with a larger organization was inevitable to provide long-term, cost-effective, comprehensive care for our community,” Mark Millett, president and CEO of Steel Dynamics Inc. and a member of DeKalb Health’s corporate and foundation boards, said in the statement. SDI’s Butler Division includes a steelmaking complex near Butler.

“The DeKalb Health board and leadership teams have used sound judgment in choosing Parkview as their partner,” Millett added. “Their values are aligned with DeKalb Health. They have the financial strength to invest in needed technology and infrastructure, and most importantly, they will provide a great home for the loyal, hard-working team members of DeKalb Health, who have served this community with passion and excellence for so long.”

Matt Fetter, CEO of Metal Technologies Inc., a metal-casting company headquartered in Auburn, echoed Millett’s sentiments. Fetter said, “The residents of DeKalb County are extremely proud of DeKalb Health and all they’ve accomplished in 55 years. Now, with the region’s largest employer here in our backyard, helping us to grow health care services and strengthen our community partnerships, we can celebrate DeKalb’s rich history and continue to grow alongside Parkview Health.”

Fetter added, “As an employer, being part of a larger network lends credibility when recruiting employees to northeast Indiana and it adds to the quality of life for our existing employees in Auburn. Through numerous donations to the community and investments toward technological advancements in healthcare, Parkview has shown a willingness and commitment to giving back that aligns with our culture in DeKalb County.”

DeKalb Health opened in 1964 and has operated for more than half a century as an independent community hospital serving the health care needs of DeKalb County and surrounding communities. Employing more than 625 people, DeKalb Health is licensed by the state of Indiana as a non-profit, 56-bed, acute care health care facility, providing a variety of inpatient and outpatient services.

Parkview Health said it is a not-for-profit, community-based health system serving a northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio population of more than 850,000. With more than 12,000 co-workers, Parkview Health said its mission is to improve health and inspire well-being in the communities it serves.

Following a vote by its board of directors Jan. 18, DeKalb Health announced its intentions to pursue a partnership affiliation with a larger health care system.

DeKalb’s and Parkview’s emergency rooms have been staffed by the same physicians group. DeKalb Health recently adopted its new electronic medical records system in partnership with Parkview Health, allowing specialists at Parkview to see all of a patient’s information from DeKalb Health.

Headquartered at its large campus on Fort Wayne’s northeast side, Parkview Health operates regional hospitals in Kendallville, LaGrange, Huntington, Columbia City, Warsaw and Wabash.

In addition to its main campus in east Auburn, DeKalb Health operates two clinics in west Auburn, a clinic in Butler and a clinic and pharmacy in Garrett.

DeKalb Health will maintain its name for now, although a spokesman said a name change is expected this summer.

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