Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Baptist Health closing deal to buy E'town hospital from county

UPDATE: The closing has been delayed because of a lawsuit by a former physician alleging that the sale doesn't comply with state law. He lost in Hardin Circuit Court but has appealed to the state Court of Appeals, Mary Alford reports for The News-Enterprise.

Hardin Memorial Hospital on Dixie Boulevard in Elizabethtown
Baptist Health, Kentucky's largest hospital operator, is buying 300-bed Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown from Hardin County, pending formal approval of the county Fiscal Court and state regulators.

The sale was announced in November, but without a price or other agreements. In a joint press release with the hospital, Baptist Health said it would "invest a minimum of $150 million in the first five years to build new facilities, recruit more physicians, upgrade HMH’s information technology and equipment and strengthen HMH’s position and reputation as the preferred regional healthcare center. After the first five-year period, Baptist Health will commit an additional $85 million in capital investments to HMH."

Baptist Health will pay the county $60 million up front, minus an estimated $30-35 million to fund the hospital's defined benefit pension plan; then pay the county $66.4 million over 25 years. it will also assume the hospital's debt of $37 million "and provide up to $150,000 per year (inflation adjusted) for 25 years for health-care services to inmates of the Hardin County Jail," the release says.

Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry said, “This agreement will also ensure a steady source of non-taxpayer funding for the county for many years, as well as assuming HMH liabilities and continuing HMH-provided inmate health services.”

The Baptist board approved the deal Tuesday, May 1. Board Chair Allen Rudd said, “We are pleased to add the caring health-care providers of Hardin Memorial Health to the Baptist Health family." The hospital will be named Baptist Health Hardin and the changeover is expected to be final Dec. 1, Mary Alford reports for The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown.

The deal also calls for Baptist to:
• Offer employment to all non-contracted employees at current pay.
• Provide employees with continuing health benefit coverage and employee benefits consistent with those offered similarly situated Baptist Health employees.
• Maintain retiree medical benefits for employees who began work before July 1, 2005.
• Accept contracts with physician employees, who will transition from hospital retirement and benefit plans to Baptist Health Medical Group plans."HMH and Baptist Health will work to ensure that each physician’s fair market value compensation remains consistent through this assignment process," the release says.
• Continue to provide medical staff membership and clinical privileges practitioners with in good standing.
• Retain Dennis Johnson as president of the hospital, and other members of the HMH senior leadership team "in their current positions of hospital leadership," the release says, without specifying a time frame. The hospital will have an administrative board with at least half its members from Hardin County.

The acquisition is the latest for Louisville-based Baptist Health, which added the former Floyd Memorial Hospital in New Albany, Ind. in 2016 and the former Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center in Richmond and the former Trover Health System in Madisonville in 2012. Its other hospitals are in Louisville, Paducah, La Grange, Lexington and Corbin. The company "has more than 300 points of care in 75 Kentucky counties, seven counties in Illinois, six counties in Southern Indiana and two counties in Tennessee," the release says. "Its physician network includes more than 3,000 employed and affiliated physicians."

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