Healthcare Business News

Universal Hospital Services CEO to step down amid large losses

By Bob Herman
Posted: August 20, 2014 - 2:15 pm ET

Gary Blackford, chairman and CEO of Universal Hospital Services, a supplier of medical devices and other healthcare technology, said Tuesday he will step down from his roles by year-end.

Reasons were not given for Blackford's departure. Universal Hospital Services, based in Minneapolis, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Blackford's announcement comes roughly four months after William Mixon, president of the company's medical equipment division, resigned. Universal Hospital Services and Mixon agreed to a $725,000 mutual termination agreement.

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Universal Hospital Services provides medical equipment and outsourcing services to more than 8,000 hospitals, skilled-nursing facilities, surgery centers and other healthcare organizations. But the company's business model has floundered the past several years as more providers directly purchase and manage their own equipment.

Since 2009, the company has lost more than $190.8 million. In the first six months of 2014 alone, it recorded a net loss of $42.5 million. Universal Hospital Services, which is partially backed by private-equity firm Irving Place Capital, also disclosed earlier this month that an unnamed group purchasing organization it works with awarded an expiring equipment contract to a competitor. Universal Hospital Services said it will be “negatively impacted by the loss of this agreement” and could lose $15 million to $20 million per year in revenue as a result.

Universal Hospital Services will hire an executive search firm to find Blackford's replacement. Blackford has been with the company for 12 years. In 2013, he made $520,682, down considerably from $1.2 million in 2012 and $2.3 million in 2011.

Follow Bob Herman on Twitter: @MHbherman

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