St. Joseph Hospital Meets to Determine Fate

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

February 14, 2006
The fate of St. Joseph hospital is up in the air. The hospital was having financial trouble, and the company that originally agreed to buy it backed out yesterday morning.

The vice president of St. Joseph's parent company, Ascension Health, tells us a series of meetings took place today in an effort to figure out their next step.

They're still a little shocked over the decision and now must decide what will become of the patients and roughly 1000 employees.

After a long morning of meetings, Ascension Health Vice President Steve Leresche says they're focusing on getting a game plan together. They thought the sale was a done deal after Florida company Health Management Associates announced the agreement in December.

"Yesterday's action came as a shock to us, and we were very disapointed and the focus now is what are the appropriate next steps."

Those next steps could be, acording to another representative, figuring out who else could buy the struggling hospital. HMA was the high bidder.

"When the sale process concluded, there were lots of interested parties."

HMA is no longer one of them. An email from HMA Senior Vice President Timothy Parry Monday morning cites "deterioration in operating performance" and "adverse changes in physician referral practice" as reasons for backing out.

So what does this mean for the thousand employees at the hospital and all the patients?

"HMA's action really creates a difficult situation for St. Joseph, for the community, for the associates."

Their fate isn't clear since the seventy five million dollar transaction was just called off. But Steve Lerouche says there's no cause for concern.

"St. Joseph is gonna continue serving the Augusta community by providing quality health care."

But no decisions have been made, so the wait continues for many. More meetings between the hospital and Ascension Health are expected at the end of the week.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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