The board of county-owned Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown, Ky., has hired Baptist Healthcare System, Louisville, Ky., to run the hospital after Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services, also of Louisville, backed out of a three-year management contract.
Jewish had been managing the hospital but pulled out of its contract a year early because Hardin decided to start a competing open-heart surgery program (May 26, p. 42).
"We strongly suggested that they not look at" such a program, said Linda McGinity, a spokeswoman for Jewish. Hardin "is a fine hospital, but their community really needs prenatal, oncology and other programs."
Jewish is about an hour's drive from Hardin and runs the eighth-largest heart program nationwide, McGinity said.
"It came down to a very crucial issue, and we could not in good conscience support a duplicative program," she said.
The Hardin board voted 8-1 in favor of Baptist to manage the 270-bed hospital. Baptist owns five Kentucky hospitals.
Before Jewish's stewardship, Hardin was managed by Quorum Health Resources, Brentwood, Tenn., for 12 years. A screening committee recommended the hospital re-hire Quorum, but board members voted 5-4 against the recommendation.
The main gripe of the board was Quorum's communication with it. "They didn't keep the board informed, and they didn't follow directions," board member Doug Goodman said.
Quorum spokeswoman Shea Davis said, "We really think the board made the decision they felt they needed to make for their hospital, and we support them."
Overall, eight companies applied for the job. Baptist was one of four semi-finalists. The others were Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif.; Health Management Associates, Naples, Fla.; and Quorum. The finalists were Quorum and Baptist.