PEKIN — It’s official: Pekin Hospital is now UnityPoint Health-Pekin.

Progressive Health Systems, Pekin Hospital’s parent company, and UnityPoint announced an intent to affiliate in August. The regulatory process is complete and the agreements signed. The change took effect Jan. 1.

In a news conference Tuesday, hospital officials from Pekin and UnityPoint announced the affiliation, saying that the Pekin Hospital Board and CEO Bob Haley would remain in place and members of the Pekin Hospital Board would serve on the UnityPoint Board, just as UnityPoint Health-Proctor Board members do, said Debbie Simon, president and CEO of the combined organization. Simon is the president and CEO of UnityPoint Health-Peoria.

“We will make a significant investment in this community,” said Simon. “We’re committed to that, and we will work with everyone in this community to build health care and to learn what would help build community health. We have a very strong focus on our mission on both the delivery of care and promoting health.”

Methodist Health Services Corp. is the new parent company of Pekin Hospital. Progressive Health Systems remains a separate legal entity with its own governing board and maintains its own income statement and balance sheet, but PHS financials are consolidated with the other corporate entities that make up Methodist Health Services Corp., said Blake Long, UnityPoint marketing and communications manager.

“The affiliation was not a cash transaction,” said Long. “MHSC did not purchase (Progressive Health Systems). As part of the affiliation agreement between the two organizations, MHSC committed to invest in the Pekin health care delivery system, including a capital commitment to be used at the direction of the (Progressive Health Systems) governing board.”

The Pekin hospital will remain a nondenominational not-for-profit organization. There will be few changes immediately other than a change in the signs, the presence of UnityPoint officials and marketing of UnityPoint Health-Pekin, said Simon. ProHealth Medical Group and ProCare will retain current names and become part of UnityPoint Health.

Haley’s new title with the hospital is president of UnityPoint Health-Pekin.

“Each of us in our lives have red letter days — days when we remember where we were on an event,” said Haley. “For Progressive Health, today is a red letter day. It’s a great day that we could take two organizations and bring together and make a bigger, greater one organization.”

Simon said UnityPoint “didn’t buy the hospital. I’ve been asked that a lot of times.”

She said the assets are contributed to a common balance sheet. “That affiliation model is about having governance in the local community, and that’s a very important principal of the UnityPoint Health model.”

The agreement eliminates competition between the smaller hospitals, said Simon.

“I believe, actually, that coming together of Methodist, Proctor and Pekin enhanced the affordability of care and the likelihood that we will have strong competition in the region that we are serving,” said Simon. “We will end up with two health systems (UnityPoint and OSF HealthCare).

“Those two health systems will strive to provide the best of quality, safety and affordable care. Two health systems can more likely compete to do that than three small entities. ... You must have strong providers to have competition. I believe we need competition, but we need collaboration. So, you need a strong health system to collaborate with another strong health system, but the goal would be long term.”

Small hospitals will face more problems in the future, said Simon. Pekin Hospital is a “very strong hospital, a good hospital, but it is a hospital that is going to be very challenged” by mandatory regulatory changes “forced on health care,” she said.

Progressive Health System Board Chairman Ron Miller said he became involved with the hospital board because it is important for the community to have a “sustainable long-term health care system.”

“More than two years ago we started looking at how we might be able to do that and quickly came to the conclusion that the partnership with UnityPoint Health really provided the best option for the people of Pekin, the area, the employees and sustaining health care,” said Miller.

“We’re looking very forward to a long period of Pekin success for health care delivery.”