ST. LOUIS -- Working out its strategy to focus on four core markets, St. Louis-based SSM Health Care System has sold Saint Eugene Community Hospital in Dillon, S.C., to a nearby major medical center. Saint Eugene was SSM's only hospital in South Carolina. Terms were not disclosed.
With that deal and the withdrawal from Georgia at the end of 1997, SSM, a Roman Catholic system sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, has reduced its scope of operations from six states to four.
Effective Jan. 1, SSM sold 92-bed Saint Eugene to nearby 371-bed McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, S.C.
In the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 1995, Saint Eugene had net income of $6.1 million on net patient revenues of $25 million, according to SMG Marketing Group, a Chicago healthcare information and marketing consulting company.
The plan is for the two hospitals to become a single integrated healthcare organization with two locations, serving 300,000 people in Dillon County and environs. For the past three years, the two hospitals have worked together within the Palmetto Health Care Network of Northeast South Carolina. SSM opened the hospital in 1943.
McLeod has pledged to retain the Catholic identity of Saint Eugene. In late 1997, SSM terminated its contract to manage St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Ga. SSM and the board of the 281-bed institution agreed to end the management contract six months ahead of its five-year duration. St. Francis was SSM's only hospital in Georgia.
In the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 1995, Saint Francis had net income of $6.7 million on net patient revenues of $76.8 million, according to SMG.
"Our system and other systems have identified that regional systemwide networks are the way healthcare will be delivered in the future," said William P. Thompson, SSM's senior vice president for strategic development. "We're trying to deliver regional networks in our markets."
Small, stand-alone rural facilities won't be as successful in the long term as facilities hooked up with networks, SSM believes. For that reason it linked Saint Eugene with a strong regional player, McLeod.
SSM first carried out this strategy in October 1993, when it swapped a hospital in suburban Kansas City, Mo., for a hospital in suburban St. Louis. SSM traded its St. Mary's Hospital of Blue Springs (Mo.) to Carondelet Health System, which already had one hospital in Kansas City. Carondelet gave St. Joseph Hospital of Kirkwood (Mo.), its only St. Louis-area facility, to SSM. Both stand-alones thus became part of larger networks.
SSM will focus its efforts henceforth on Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. No other SSM hospitals are being considered for trade or sale, Thompson said.
In Oklahoma, SSM is exploring some sort of affiliation with Integris Health of Oklahoma City. SSM has three hospitals in that area, and Integris owns, manages or leases 16 hospitals in the state. A final agreement is months away, an Integris spokesman said. SSM is not considering a merger, Thompson said.