Gifford Medical Center, a Randolph, Vt.-based provider organization, last week agreed to affiliate with Hitchcock Alliance, a Lebanon, N.H.-based group of hospitals and other healthcare facilities in northern New England. The medical center includes 52-bed Gifford Memorial Hospital, a 53-bed nursing home and four clinics in neighboring towns. Gifford becomes the sixth hospital in the alliance, which also includes Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, Lebanon; Central Vermont Medical Center, New Berlin; Mount Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, Windsor, Vt.; Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Northampton, Mass.; and Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, Colebrook, N.H. The proposed alliance of Gifford and Hitchcock is not a merger, said Gifford President Thomas Wingardner. The medical center would retain a separate corporate structure and control over its endowment, assets and liabilities, Wingardner said. But the alliance will have veto power over Gifford's budget and representation on its board. Gifford will have representation on Hitchcock Alliance's board.
A reorganization of the Wisconsin Hospital Association will take effect March 15 after its membership approved the changes in a 77-10 vote late last week. The WHA board already had endorsed a new membership and governance structure. The association now will have membership categories for independent hospitals, regional systems, local systems and corporate medical providers. Previously, its governance didn't reflect the increasing presence of hospital systems, said WHA President Robert Taylor.
San Bernardino, Calif., officials have reached an agreement with a coalition of businesses, including private hospitals, to scale back plans for a new $647 million county medical center. The coalition argued that the facility, which is half completed, didn't reflect sweeping changes in healthcare and would duplicate services at a cost of $50 million a year to taxpayers. Under the agreement, the size of the new center will not change, but acute-care beds will be reduced from 283 to 238. Specialized services such as open-heart surgery will be contracted out to private providers, and public-private partnerships will be explored in areas such as indigent care, home healthcare and joint county-private HMOs. Reconfiguring the medical center will not result in additional costs and will reduce ongoing operating costs, a spokeswoman for the coalition said.
Universal Health Services reported a 54% increase in net income for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1995, to $6.9 million, or 48 cents per share, from $4.4 million, or 32 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the King of Prussia, Pa.-based company grew 28% to $262.1 million. For the year, the chain of 29 hospitals reported 24% growth in net income to $35.4 million, or $2.52 per share, from $28.7 million, or $2.02 per share, in the previous year. Revenues increased 19% to $931.1 million. The fourth-quarter figures were affected by $11.6 million in nonrecurring charges that included a loss on two hospitals sold, a gain on the sale of a third hospital, and a write-down in the value of certain psychiatric and ambulatory-care facilities.
Steven Hoffenberg, the healthcare accounts receivable financier who pleaded guilty to bilking investors of more than $450 million in a Ponzi scheme, was arrested last week after failing to meet new bail terms. Hoffenberg has been free on bail since pleading guilty to federal charges of securities fraud and conspiracy last April 20. He is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced on March 21. A spokeswoman in the U.S. attorney's office in New York said she didn't know how much jail time Hoffenberg might serve. The former chairman and chief executive of the bankrupt receivables company, Towers Financial Corp., is being held in Little Rock, Ark., where he was arrested by federal agents. According to the New York Times, Hoffenberg has been involved in setting up a defense fund for Whitewater defendant James B. McDougal and has entered a partnership to gain from McDougal's celebrity through movie deals or T-shirt sales.
Coastal Physician Group will reduce its corporate office staff by two-thirds and consider selling some of its operations after suffering operating losses in 1995. The physician practice management company said it expects financial results for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1995, to be substantially below analysts' projections. It said there would be an operating loss caused in part by nonrecurring items related to the sale of its South Florida clinics, billing systems conversion and corporate downsizing. Financial results will be released April 1. Coastal's board of directors authorized management to engage an investment banker to evaluate strategic options. Staff in its Durham, N.C., headquarters will be reduced to about 65 employees from more than 200.