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Munroe suitors lining up

Ocala, FL - December 13, 2011

Published in the Ocala Star-banner on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.
Modified on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 2:44 p.m:

Munroe Regional Medical Center already is getting potential suitors as the Marion County Hospital District trustees continue their process of identifying potential health care partners or hospitals to lease the 400-bed medical facility.

During a trustee meeting Monday, consultants Ponder & Co. told the trustees that a dozen health care systems responded that they were interested in learning more about Munroe, a partnership, or taking control of the hospital.

Hospital District trustees hired Ponder to help in the process. The trustees can pursue these suitors, reject them and instead seek a hospital tax to support Munroe, or continue with the current structure without tax assistance.

The Hospital District trustees are appointed by the County Commission. The district currently leases the hospital to Munroe Regional Health System.

The health care companies that have shown interest are Adventist Health System, Ardent Health Services, Community Health Systems, Health Management Associates, IASIS Healthcare, Tenet, LHP Hospital Group, LifePoint Hospitals, RegionalCare Hospital Partners, Steward Health Care System, UHS and Vanguard Health Systems.

More companies likely will join the list of interested parties, said Dave Atchison, a Ponder executive.

Ponder also submitted to trustees a draft of a letter that consultants will send to potential interested parties about Munroe and a packet of information about the hospital, its market share and its health care focus in the community. The letter will be sent Dec. 20.

“We’re not surprised with the level of interest,” Atchison said. “We’re pleased, quite frankly.”

During the meeting Monday, Munroe Regional Board of Directors member Brian O’Connor said he was concerned that the packet Ponder was sending to prospective buyers contained information about Munroe that could be used against the facility by its competitors.

Atchison agreed, saying, “It’s not the preferred way to do business.”

But Munroe CEO and President Steve Purves said such information was public record and the search had to be transparent.

Munroe is a public hospital. Most of its meetings and many of its documents are open to the public.

In an unrelated issue, Munroe presented a preliminary financial report showing that it generated $3.7 million in revenue over expenses during fiscal 2011. This would mark the second time in five years the hospital generated more money than it spent after paying its bills and reinvesting in the facility. The revenue amount will be finalized after audits next month and could be changed.

 


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