Sale of hospital finalized

Published 6:29 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2007

By Staff
Expected to bring better health care to the county
Staff Writer
PLYMOUTH — In a vote that was two years in the making, the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved the sale of Washington County Hospital.
With the sale confirmed, Hospital Management Consulting is required to begin construction of a new, 25-bed hospital within six months. The new facility will replace the existing 49-bed hospital. The new facility must be completed, furnished, staffed and ready to receive patients within three years, according to the terms of sale. HMC will operate the present hospital on U.S. Highway 64 in Plymouth until the new facility is completed.
HMC will pay the county $2.25 million for “hospital assets” — the buildings and equipment — and take over management responsibilities. The company also will purchase the hospital’s networking capital for $1.27 million, making the total deal worth $3.52 million to the county.
Should HMC fail to complete the terms, it will be required to pay the county a $700,000 penalty.
Pending the completion of all necessary documentation, the sale will tentatively close April 30, County Manager David Peoples said.
HMC, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., specializes in rural-hospital management. The county decided to enter into exclusive negotiations with the company after a special joint meeting with the hospital’s board of directors in October.
Negotiations were concluded in February, when a final report from the hospital board’s negotiation committee was unanimously approved by commissioners at their regular meeting that month. Commissioners were scheduled to sign the final contract at their regular March meeting, but a change of financiers by HMC required a redrafting of the deal — delaying action until Monday’s meeting.
And that delay was not the first hurdle in the county’s efforts to sell the hospital. The county previously negotiated with Washington County Health Holdings, based in Hickory, N.C., but negotiations between the company and the hospital board “didn’t come to fruition,” putting the process back at square one, according to Peoples.
But the board’s second round of negotiations has come to fruition.
Corey, who has been involved in the negotiations since the decision was made to sell the hospital, said that it is important the county continue to be serviced by a full-service hospital, despite the closeness of other major medical facilities.