Akron -- Summa Health System and Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners, a non-profit organization, have announced a strategic partnership that would give the non-profit a minority stake in Summa.

The decision comes following Summa's announcement in July that it would seek a like-minded, larger non-profit partner to enhance its initiatives and strengthen its financial position, in exchange for a minority interest in the organization. Summa will retain majority ownership and local control, according to Mike Bernstein, public relations director with Summa Health System.

"We have had the unique opportunity to get to know several leading national healthcare organizations throughout this process," said Norman Wells Jr., chairman of the Board of Directors of Summa Health System. "Our experience with each has been extremely positive, and we have learned a great deal about what makes them successful. When looking specifically at what is most important to us, I am confident that Catholic Health Partners is the right group to join us on our journey to transform the delivery of healthcare."

The decision to seek a potential partner is part of Summa's three-year strategic planning process, which includes multiple initiatives to prepare the organization for a new era of healthcare. In addition, as Summa continues to become more efficient, there are clear synergies with CHP in care redesign, revenue cycle, supply chain and enhanced productivity.

Several health proposals also are underway separately around which Summa and CHP share a common vision.

According to a Feb. 21 release from Summa, Summa and CHP already have a productive relationship, working together to expand the SummaCare Medicare Advantage product to new markets in 2012 for the 2013 coverage period. Summa, CHP and other partners in Ohio are working to advance health care in the state.

"When we began this process, we were very clear that we would only enter into an agreement with a non-profit organization that shared our mission, vision and values," said Tom Strauss, Summa Health System President and CEO. "While there still is a great deal of work to be done during the next several months to finalize a partnership, I believe that CHP shares our view that the way healthcare is delivered in our nation must change. At Summa, we are well positioned for future success, but together with CHP, I believe that we can truly be transformational."