Presently, the trustees who run Munroe are negotiating with a different firm, Health Management Associates of Naples, to take over Munroe in a move designed to reverse the hospital's slide toward red ink.
But CHS has made a bid to buy HMA in a deal that would make CHS the largest hospital company in the world in terms of the number of facilities and beds. If the deal goes through, CHS would acquire Munroe when CHS acquires HMA.
Because that is a very real possibility, Munroe executives — including hospital trustees, staff and advisors — took a trip recently to a CHS hospital in Valparaiso, Ind., to assess how CHS runs its facilities.
They were impressed, they said Tuesday at a meeting between Marion County commissioners and hospital trustees.
Like Munroe, the Valparaiso hospital was an independent community medical center until it was purchased by CHS. Seven years later, CHS built a second hospital in Valparaiso as a sign of its commitment to quality health care.
Rich Mutarelli, the interim CEO for Munroe, said CHS appears to be very focused on quality, but that the company also offers "standardization, fiscal discipline and corporate support" that would strengthen Munroe.
Former Sheriff Ed Dean, who is volunteering to help the Marion County Hospital District trustees reorganize after they lease Munroe to a private company, agreed.
"They know how to get a hospital to the highest level of care," Dean said. "Now (Munroe) is already there, but they understand how to maintain that."
But while Munroe's leadership team works to get comfortable with both HMA and CHS, Munroe employees are nervous about the future, said Dr. Ken Marino, a Munroe trustee.
Marino worries that the uncertainty over which company will ultimately operate Munroe is causing some employees to contemplate leaving, and he wondered what he should tell them.
"I would just tell them that we're trying to get the best deal for the community, the customers and the patients and employees," trustee Chairman Jon Kurtz replied.