In an unusual partnership, two Connecticut-based health systems are preparing to jointly acquire a financially troubled hospital from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn.
Last month, St. Vincent's Health Services in Bridgeport and Stamford (Conn.) Health System signed a letter of intent to buy Stamford-based St. Joseph Medical Center from the diocese for an undisclosed amount. Officials must file a certificate-of-need application with the state. They expect to receive state approval and complete the deal within the next six months.
The partnership arose from discussions about St. Joseph's future, said Tom Drohan, a spokesman for the diocese. St. Joseph already operates under a management contract with St. Vincent's Health Services, the corporate parent of St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport. When the contract expires in July 1997, it's anticipated that Stamford Health System, parent of Stamford Hospital, will assume day-to-day management responsibilities at the neighboring 180-bed hospital.
"The intent is to maintain choice to meet the community's needs," said Bruce Hutchison, director of public affairs for St. Vincent's.
Drohan said the financial burden of operating St. Joseph influenced the decision to sell the facility. But there also was the real need to combine with other Fairfield County providers to create a strong, integrated delivery system, he said.
St. Vincent's denied a request for recent revenue and net income figures for St. Joseph. But according to the Connecticut Office of Health Care Access, St. Joseph posted a net loss of $3.4 million on total revenues of $83.1 million for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 1995.
"The bishop, frankly, and the diocese had to make a decision regarding St. Joseph," and aligning with Stamford and St. Vincent's was believed to be "the best way to do it," Hutchison said.
Officials declined to reveal the negotiated purchase price. "As a matter of policy, the diocese does not discuss those terms," Drohan said. He added that the diocese plans to use the money for education, training and social services.
St. Joseph was established by the Diocese of Hartford in 1942 and was assumed by the Bridgeport diocese in 1953.
Under the agreement, St. Vincent's will hold a 51% stake in the new not-for-profit partnership, and Stamford will own 49%. The partnership will serve as the vehicle for purchasing St. Joseph and future acquisitions, Hutchison said.
St. Joseph will remain a Catholic acute-care hospital and will become a full member of St. Louis-based Daughters of Charity National Health System, which sponsors St. Vincent's.