Lake Health trustees announced plans to launch a partnership exploration process and has engaged Chicago-based Kaufman Hall to work with trustees, medical staff and hospital leadership to evaluate opportunities.

Lake Health is reviewing its strategic options to allow it to remain true to its mission of providing comprehensive health care services to the residents of Lake County and neighboring communities while honoring its commitment to local access, healing with compassion and superior quality, a news release states.

"Lake Health is an anchor organization in the community and this process is about looking at how we can strengthen that organization now and in the future," Michael Mayher, chair of the board of trustees, said in the release. "Health care is changing so fast that we need to look at how we can shape tomorrow's health system through clinical and technological innovation in order to make Lake Health stronger for the community."

The strategic partnership process is about creating the best long-term vision for the hospital, Mayher said. Lake Health maintains an ‘A-’ rating from Fitch and a ‘Baa1’ rating from Moody’s. The strong financial position means Lake Health sees no immediate financial need for a partner.

“We begin this process from a position of strength," Dr. Philip Brzozowski, president of the Lake Health Medical Staff, said in the release. "By any metric, we have evolved into one of the outstanding health care providers in the region. Yet, there is another level to which we aspire. This process is about seeing if we can enhance our abilities and opportunities to provide care right here in Lake County.”

This isn't the first time Lake Health has evaluated its business model. From 1924 to 1985, Lake County Memorial Hospitals operated as a county owned entity. In 1985, the hospitals converted to a private independent not for profit called Lake Hospital System. The private system took over all obligations from the county, including $19.7 million in debt.  In 2009, Lake Hospital System changed its name to Lake Health, emphasizing its focus on health and wellness.

Lake Health President and CEO Cynthia Moore-Hardy added: “As we undergo this process to position us for the future, nothing changes in terms of the superior health care we provide. Our mission won’t change either: To provide local access, healing with compassion and superior quality, which has been our hallmark for more than a century.”