Consider This! - 5/16/16 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Consider This! - 5/16/16

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

I’ve spent the better part of the past week or so trying to learn more about the, if not dead, certainly on life support failed deal between Novant Health and Memorial.

It seems this deal fell apart once the Chatham County Hospital Authority, which in fact has very little authority, began trying to impose its way into the negotiations, stalling the deal and pushing Novant back at every turn.

Almost immediately after voting to approve the arrangement last month, the Authority began adding stipulations, which in Novant’s words, made it impossible for this deal to proceed.

Those on the authority would tell you that they’re trying to protect the future of Memorial’s Level One Trauma Center and Neonatal Units, and while that may be their intention, their actions are jeopardizing those services and many others.

As the Novant deal fell apart, County Commission Chair Al Scott suggested there would be other suitors and late last week one appeared. Hospital Corporation of America was considered early on in this process, but the for-profit company was deemed by the negotiation committee, of good fit. One possible reason, a recent study shows that HCA operates 14 of the top 50 hospitals in this country that markup hospital supplies and services the most, on average more than three times that of a typical non-profit hospital.

Consider this: The Hospital Authority was formed by the County Commission post World War II with the sole mission to help build and develop local hospitals. As been the case for the past 60 plus years, the Authority holds the leases for Memorial’s property and guarantees their capital bonds.

It’s time for the Hospital Authority to take a back seat in these negotiations and return to their traditional role of landlord. Memorial’s financial woes have been well documented for the past 10 years or so, yet this is the first time the Authority has decided, at least publically, to get involved in their day-to-day operation.

Now is not the time for them to make a power grab. It doesn’t fix what ails Memorial.

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