Signature Healthcare Buying Northwest Florida Community Hospital - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Signature Healthcare Buying Northwest Florida Community Hospital

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Signature HealthCARE has now finalized its purchase of Northwest Florida Community Hospital (NFCH), a 59-bed Critical Access Hospital and health care facility in Chipley, Fla.

NFCH owner and President Patrick Schlenker has transferred his portion of stock to Signature, a Louisville, Ky.-based long-term care operator with more than 70 nursing homes in six states. Among those homes is Washington Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, which is also located in Chipley and has a five-star rating from the federal government, the highest quality rating a nursing home can receive.

NFCH, meanwhile, last year was recognized as the ‘Most Improved Hospital' by the Florida Hospital Association for hospitals with 150 beds or less. The hospital also was named ‘Business of the Year' by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

"Signature hopes to build on that legacy and continue to boost the quality of care provided in the community, while helping to lower health care costs for area residents," company President and CEO Joe Steier said. 

Signature also hopes to continue to play a vital role in the economic well-being of the town by securing local health care jobs and later adding more.

"We've been proud members of the Chipley community for a while now, and I'm really pleased we could deepen our commitment to this community," he added. "We're grateful to Mr. Schlenker for making sure NFCH earned a reputation as a quality health care provider during the past 10 years, and we think we can take the facility to the next level."

The deal reflects a larger conversation taking place nationwide about impending changes to the way health care is delivered in the United States. With massive reform legislation being implemented, health care providers of every stripe will share in both the risks and the rewards as they work more closely to gain efficiencies and raise the quality of care.

Schlenker said he spent nearly two years searching for a health care organization that could take NFCH to ‘the next level' before the relationship with Signature materialized. Some important considerations, he said, was the fact that Signature is a ‘highly successful' faith-based company with a history of providing health care services in rural areas, combined with the company's affiliation with Alliant Management Services, which has extensive experiences managing Critical Access Hospitals such as NFCH.

"Another key factor was the professionalism and responsiveness of Signature's and Alliant's key staff involved in the negotiations," Schlenker said. "To a person, they treated my staff and me with respect and dignity, and that was greatly appreciated. To me, Signature was a natural fit and we are extremely excited to have become part of the family."

For more about Signature HealthCARE, visit

For more about NFCH, visit