SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Memorial Health is now officially privately owned by Hospital Corporation of America.
Ownership of Savannah's only public hospital changed hands on Feb. 1. For two years, the Chatham County Hospital Authority has been looking for a buyer or financial partner.
WTOC has been following the story since 2016 when Novant Health was potentially going to be a financial partner. Nearly a year after that multimillion dollar deal fell through, another deal was finally on the table when HCA made an offer last April.
For the first time in two years, team members are finally breathing a big sigh of relief. The now-former public hospital has been struggling financially for several years, leaving employees and folks in the 35-county region who depend on the level 1 trauma center wondering whether the hospital would survive.
But at midnight, the hospital officially changed hands from public to private.
The $710 million deal has been in the works for 10 months. Hospital Corporation of America is promising to pay off the bonds and debt and invest $280 million dollars in capital projects.
"Everybody is excited. We were here last night at midnight, everyone was anticipating it. It was a quiet and seamless transition," said Memorial Health CEO Shayne George.
The $25 million profit from the sale will be put into an escrow account. The Chatham County Hospital Authority will become trustees of that account funding programs and organizations that offer indigent care for those without insurance in Chatham County.
"It's not going to be a nickel here or a dime here," said Chatham County Hospital Authority Chairman Dr. Frank Rossiter. "It's going to be grant proposals."
The Chatham County Hospital Authority will help the uninsured outside of HCA's Memorial Health. HCA plans to take care of the uninsured inside. They are also promising to maintain indigent care and maintain core services like the level 1 trauma center and level 3 neonatal intensive care unit.
"We have no plans to discontinue any services. Really there is more plans to evaluate what we have and enhance those services," George said.
And the enhancement process has already started. Memorial Health's new logo was revealed Thursday. The Caring Star can already be seen around the hospital campus.
"It's really the integration of our teams, our physicians, our patients coming together," said George. "And as we work to deliver a great patient-experience for our patients, this is just a symbol of that. Wherever you see Memorial Health, you are going to see the Caring Star."
The following is the full statement released on Feb. 1 by Memorial Health: