The Hillsborough County (Fla.) Hospital Authority board voted 12-3 late last month to privatize 681-bed Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital. The hospital will be leased to a new not-for-profit corporation known as Florida Health Sciences Center. Privatization will allow the hospital to avoid Florida laws requiring public disclosure of business dealings (March 17, p. 7). "It will be a newly formed not-for-profit free of government regulation," said Bruce Siegel, M.D., Tampa General's president and chief executive officer. The lease is expected to take effect Oct. 1 after the new corporation gains approvals for tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.
A Tennessee legislative committee failed to advance a bill that would have allowed the University of Tennessee to transfer ownership or management of its 600-bed hospital, UT Medical Center in Knoxville, to another corporation. The university had the legislation introduced on its behalf in February (Feb. 10, p. 4). It had been considering several options for the hospital, including an outright sale, contracting out management of the facility or privatizing it through the creation of a new not-for-profit corporation. Current Tennessee law doesn't allow UT Medical Center to be managed, leased or owned by anyone other than the university. "I'm not sure if that's the end of it for this year or not," said Jim Bennett, a university spokesman. "Anything can happen as long as the Legislature is in session."
The Medical Society of South Carolina has won a key legal decision in its ongoing court fight to stop the proposed alliance between Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. and Charleston-based Medical University of South Carolina, the chief rival of the society's Roper CareAlliance, Charleston. Circuit Judge John Hayes extended the evidence-gathering period of the case by three months and ordered depositions of MUSC and Columbia officials. He also ordered MUSC to release documents related to its negotiations with Columbia to the medical society's attorney. In February 1996, MUSC agreed to lease its three hospitals to Columbia for 30 years in a deal valued at more than $1 billion over the life of the lease. The medical society filed suit in August 1996 alleging the deal is an illegal joint venture between the state and a private company (March 24, p. 26).
Unison HealthCare Corp., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based long-term-care company, said it has terminated President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry M. Walker as an officer and employee as it struggles to bounce back from financial problems. The company had placed Walker on administrative leave in April (April 21, p. 28). After restating its third-quarter earnings, Unison reported a net loss of $23.4 million, or $5.01 per share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 1996, compared with net income of $117,000, or 5 cents per share, for the previous year. Revenues rose 117% to $148.7 million. Unison said it has hired an executive search firm to replace Walker and other top executives who earlier resigned from the company, curtailed its acquisition program and reduced its corporate cost structure.
In a reversal of course agreed to during recently concluded merger talks with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Shadyside Hospital will be renamed University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Shadyside. Under the original merger agreement, completed in April after more than a year of negotiations, Shadyside was to keep its full name (April 7, p. 86). A joint board of directors from the institutions approved the name change late last month to minimize confusion about the relationship between the hospitals.
The president and chief executive officer of Columbia Hospital for Women Medical Center in Washington has resigned while the facility's board mulls three offers to buy the 75-bed specialty hospital. Susan Hansen, 48, departed the hospital late last month to form her own consulting company, National Health Strategies, based in Washington. The hospital has hired Tom Foley, former chief financial officer at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, as interim president and CEO. The hospital's board of trustees is reviewing competing offers from Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pa.; Suburban Hospital, Bethesda, Md.; and Medlantic Healthcare Group, Washington.