A physician-led coalition is among the bidders for one of 20 hospitals Tenet Healthcare Corp. is selling.
Physicians affiliated with Winona Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis are bidding for the 130-bed facility, says Robert Mehl Jr., M.D., director of radiology.
Mehl says the doctors want to stop the revolving door in the hospital's corporate suite. Since going for-profit in 1984, Winona has had three owners, changed its name and changed it back.
"Each time (corporate change) happens, we suffer some morale problems," Mehl says. "Physicians feel like local control and ownership will allow us to be more competitive and maintain continuous quality of care." Mehl says he expects a doctor-owned hospital also could attract more physicians, especially those whose practices have been swallowed up by large hospitals or management services organizations.
Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet is selling 20 hospitals in areas where it has little presence, which would leave the company with 109 hospitals. Tenet would not comment on Winona or any other potential bidders.
The company expected to receive final bids by the end of last month. "We expect multiple bids for all 20," spokesman Harry Anderson says.
The company is looking for "substantial" bidders that can guarantee continued employment and benefits for hospital employees and have the ability to finance future growth, Anderson says.
Mehl says the doctors are lining up financial partners, although he would not identify them. About 30 key doctors have committed an unspecified amount of capital, Mehl says. He says 200 physicians are affiliated with Winona, but 50 of them make up more than 75% of admissions.
Indianapolis is dominated by large, not-for-profit systems, but Mehl says Winona is profitable and can serve a niche in its current form as a neighborhood hospital providing emergency, general surgical and primary care.