After years of searching, and nearly 12 full months after an initial deal fell apart, Memorial Health has finally found a solution to its ailing financial status.
Last week both the Chatham County Hospital Authority and the Memorial Health Board of Directors approved the sale of the health care system to HCA, a for-profit health care company.
The nearly three-quarter of a billion dollar sale will pay off the hospital’s debt, will allow growth into Pooler and will provide the funding needed to complete the Dwaine and Cynthia Willet Children’s Hospital of Savannah, among many things.
HCA also says it's committed to keeping Memorial’s Level 1 Trauma Center and Neonatal Intensive Care units, at least for 10 years. On paper, this deal seems better than the one with Novant from last year that was essentially killed by Hospital Authority.
But Consider This: The authority’s primary justification for squelching the Novant deal was that it felt there weren’t enough assurances to keep both the trauma and neonatal centers operational in-perpetuity. They also worried that too much control of the hospital would be placed in the hands of people outside of this community.
The HCA deal doesn’t alleviate those concerns in the least, in fact, it makes them worse with only a 10-year guarantee on current services and no local board to oversee the hospital. What this deal does do is give the Hospital Authority control of a nearly $170 million trust fund to go toward the cost of any indigent care they see fit, not just Memorial’s.
In the end, Memorial had to do something. It was bleeding money at unprecedented rates and after Novant left them at the alter there were very few, if not only just the one, suitor. HCA gives Memorial the financial remedy they were seeking, let’s just hope the cure isn’t worse than the disease.
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