Staff Reports

With a shared commitment for improving rural access to health care, Northeast Regional Medical Center (NRMC) and University of Missouri Health Care (MU Health Care) have formed a strategic relationship designed to increase access to specialty services and enhance health care for people living in northeastern Missouri.

The relationship will bring MU Health Care physicians and specialty services to Kirksville, expanding medical services that NRMC can offer locally, while connecting patients who may need it to higher level care in Columbia.

“We’re excited about what this means for Kirksville — a sustainable local healthcare system that keeps people in our community when they need medical services,” said Patrick Avila, CEO, Northeast Regional Medical Center. “Kirksville residents will have all the advantages that come with partnering with a premier academic health system that offers leading edge medical care as well as a shared promise that we will deliver — better healthcare for every patient.”

The alignment builds upon an existing relationship between the two health systems in which MU Health Care physicians provide tele-neonatology consultations to Northeast Missouri Health Council OB/GYN physicians caring for newborns at Northeast Regional, allowing more families to stay in Kirksville while their babies receive the special support they need before going home.

Under the new relationship agreement, the health systems are identifying more ways to collaborate, support and grow services throughout the region with a focus on women’s services, cardiology, orthopedics and critical care, and providing Graduate Medical Education rotations to train the next generation of physicians.

“This strategic relationship aligns with our commitment to expand access to health care in Missouri’s rural communities and affirms our mission to save and improve lives,” said Nim Chinniah, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, MU Health Care. “Not only will this improve care for northeast Missourians where they live, but we will be able to better connect them with more than 600 MU Health Care doctors in more than 80 specialties working together to ensure they receive the highest quality care possible.”

Chinniah said that one of his beliefs is that the best care is the kind that is the closest to where people live, so this is an opportunity for them to extend the delivery of care in the northeast region to make sure that it’s sustainable and strong for the long term. He emphasized that the new strategy is one that will enhance what has been a long-time relationship between NRMC and MU Health Care.

“We already partner with the Northeast Regional Health Council to support their physicians who actually practice in women’s and children’s health at Northeast Regional Medical Center by being on the phone and tele-services so that we can support their ability to take care of moms and babies right there in the community,” Chinniah said. “So long term we’ll be able to expand those services to include women’s and children’s cardiology, orthopedics and also behavioral health.

Chinniah said that the plan is not just focused on women and children’s health, but rather broader support for all the needs in the region including emergency medicine. He said the stronger relationship with NRMC would mean better physician recruitment and physicians to handle complex specialties, like orthopedics and neurology. He said that through their graduate medical education program, they’ll also be able to train the next generation of physicians and leaders who they hope, once they go through their training, will live and work in the Kirksville community, something they’ve seen played out in some of their other regional partnerships.

Chinniah said there’s a lot of stresses and strains when it comes to running a small community hospital, from workforce to coverage, to keeping specialty services in the community.

“We think a great community hospital that has a long tradition of being very attentive to the needs of their community, coming together with a major respected academic health system, creates the type of relationship that sustains healthcare in the region because otherwise people will have no choice but to travel to Colombia, St. Louis or Kansas City,” he said. “So going back to my core principle of the best care is local care closest to home, this ensures that Kirksville will continue to have high quality health care for the long term.”

He said that the transition will not in any way be a major acquisition or an integration but rather the extension of a relationship, a supplement to the healthcare already being provided by NRMC.

“To sustain it, make it stronger and make it better — not replace it,” he said.

About Northeast Regional Medical Center

Northeast Regional Medical Center is a 93-bed facility with a Level III trauma center, Level III STEMI center, Joint Commission Acute Stroke Ready certification, and ACC Certified Chest Pain Center. With over 500 healthcare professionals, NRMC is a teaching hospital associated with the founding school of osteopathic medicine, A.T. Still University. NRMC has a 4-Star CMS Quality Star rating. Additionally, NRMC earned an “A” Safety Grade from the Leapfrog Group for Spring 2023. For more information, visit or Northeast Regional Medical
Center is owned, in part, by physicians.

About University of Missouri Health Care  

University of Missouri Health Care is an academic health system with a mission to save and improve lives. Caring for patients from each of Missouri’s 114 counties, MU Health Care specialists treat the simplest and most complex medical conditions, discover breakthroughs and train the next generation of doctors to do the same. Committed to collaboration, research and innovation, MU Health Care has more than 6,000 physicians, nurses and health care professionals in over 80 specialties working together to give patients seamless care with the most advanced treatments and safest procedures. Serving more than 240,000 patients each year, MU Health Care facilities include Capital Region Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, Missouri Psychiatric Center, University Hospital and Women’s Hospital, as well as multiple quick care, urgent care, primary care and specialty locations. For more information, visit


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