The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha has received state approval to build a $42 million transplant center, but the state said it will re-evaluate the request if the medical center buys a neighboring hospital.
The state's conditional certificate-of-need approval throws another monkey wrench into an already complex deal involving Bishop Clarkson Hospital in Omaha.
Last summer Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. agreed to buy Clarkson for $84 million. However, after that deal was announced, University of Nebraska Medical Center officials said they had first right of refusal to buy the hospital, which is across the street from the medical center. The first refusal right was part of a 1953 agreement between the two hospitals, medical center officials said.
Columbia officials have disputed whether the agreement can block the hospital sale.
Now the state has further muddled the situation by making the CON for the university's proposed transplant center conditional. The 207,000-square-foot center will be financed by a mix of private and public funds.
Last week CON program administrator Charlene Gondring said the state won't necessarily turn down transplant center approval if the university decides to buy Bishop Clarkson. The state is concerned that if the medical center buys the hospital, some facilities could be merged. "It just seems we didn't have enough information" to grant the CON unconditionally, she said.
The university board of regents would have to approve a bid for Bishop Clarkson. The regents meet June 10. Medical center officials have yet to make a recommendation on acquiring the hospital.
In other Columbia news, the Nashville, Tenn.-based chain and Phoenix-based Samaritan Health System agreed to a joint venture in which Columbia will manage 86-bed Samaritan Medical Center-San Clemente (Calif.). Terms weren't disclosed.