Executives at Johnson City (Tenn.) Medical Center are hoping Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. will sign a managed-care service contract with them and snuff out the investor-owned company's thoughts of building a new hospital nearby.
The move comes more than a year after the not-for-profit hospital snubbed Columbia's proposal to form a joint venture to operate the 407-bed facility, located in the far northeast corner of Tennessee in a market called the Tri-Cities area.
Nashville-based Columbia and Johnson City Medical ended their joint venture negotiations because of a disagreement over governance issues (Jan. 22, 1996, p. 6).
Columbia, which already operates four hospitals in the Tri-Cities market, is considering building a new hospital in Johnson City to provide tertiary services such as open-heart surgery that aren't available at its other facilities.
"We felt we needed to take that argument away and present our own proposal," said Dennis Vonderfecht, president and chief executive officer of Johnson City Medical, the area's largest facility.
The managed-care service proposal pitched to Columbia by Johnson City Medical calls for the hospital to provide certain tertiary services as a "preferred or in-network hospital" for Columbia's Tri-Cities network. The services would include neonatal intensive care, neurosurgery, open-heart surgery, kidney transplant and radiation oncology.
Columbia executives said last week they are reviewing the proposal as well as looking at all options to bringing tertiary services to the company's northeast Tennessee region.
They also said the company has had similar discussions with Wellmont Health System, the parent corporation of two other Tri-Cities hospitals: Bristol (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center and Holston Valley Hospital in Kingsport, Tenn.
The merger of Bristol and Holston Valley was prompted by the joint venture talks between Johnson City Medical and Columbia (June 24, 1996, p. 34).