SOURCE: VHA

February 20, 2006 11:00 ET

Essentia Health Joins VHA

IRVING, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 20, 2006 -- VHA Inc. has added Essentia Health as a shareholder member. Based in Duluth, Minn., Essentia Health is an affiliation of St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic Health System and the Benedictine Health System. The Essentia Health network includes 10 hospitals, 32 clinics, a pharmacy, 68 long term care facilities and stretches across nine states.

"By linking with VHA, Essentia Health will be able to consolidate our purchasing relationships and leverage our collective volume in new ways by utilizing VHA's supply chain management and Novation's contract management expertise. We estimate the connections with VHA and Novation will save Essentia Health more than $3 million annually on supply purchases," said Peter Person, MD, chief executive officer of Essentia Health. "The national and local support VHA offers our organizations will enable us to extend our resources and explore new opportunities for improving care."

Person said VHA's clinical improvement programs will also prove useful to the organization, helping the health system engage physicians and work collaboratively to drive performance improvement.

"The addition of Essentia Health to the VHA family strengthens our regional network," said Allan Johnson, senior vice president of VHA's Upper Midwest office, which coordinates the delivery and development of services to VHA members in Michigan, Minnesota and North and South Dakota. In total, VHA serves more than 2,400 health care organizations nationwide.

As a shareholder member, Essentia Health has a greater say in the governance of the VHA alliance and has more opportunities to engage in networking and educational offerings that are reserved solely for shareholders. VHA shareholder and partner organizations also receive quarterly distributions through the cooperative.

About VHA

VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national alliance that provides industry-leading supply chain management services and supports the formation of regional and national networks to help members improve their clinical and economic performance. With 18 offices across the U.S., VHA has a track record of proven results in serving more than 2,400 health care organizations nationwide.

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