Extra! Extra! Read all about it: Newspaper mogul wants to buy Indianapolis hospital.
Michael Maurer, part owner of an Indianapolis newspaper publishing company, and a group of local physicians are hoping to buy a hospital from Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet Healthcare Corp.
Maurer and about 25 physicians want to buy 159-bed Winona Memorial Hospital, one of 20 hospitals Tenet has put up for sale.
Twelve of those 20 hospitals are spoken for, including the only other Indiana property, 98-bed Culver Union Hospital, Crawfordsville. Mishawaka, Ind.-based Sisters of St. Francis Health Services signed a definitive agreement last month to buy Culver Union (Aug. 30, p. 4).
Maurer, 56, is part owner of IBJ Corp., which publishes the weekly Indianapolis Business Journal and three other specialty newspapers. He also founded an Indianapolis bank and is part owner of three radio stations.
Maurer, who has never owned a hospital before, said he wants to buy Winona Memorial because "I buy properties that need help, and I fix them."
But Winona Memorial doesn't appear to be doing too badly.
The hospital posted profits of $3.5 million on total patient revenues of $75.6 million for the year ended Aug. 31, 1998, according to HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company. That's a slight drop from 1997 when the hospital turned a profit of $3.7 million on total patient revenues of $73.8 million for the year ended Aug. 31, 1997.
Maurer, the physicians and lending institutions would supply the money to buy Winona Memorial, Maurer said.
He said he doesn't see a conflict of interest in owning both a local hospital and the Indianapolis Business Journal, which has written about his bid for the hospital.
"I don't see that as a conflict of interest, because I don't have any influence over what the paper writes," he said.
Earlier this month, the newspaper published a story in which Maurer said Tenet had asked his group for a more solid offer.
Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson said, "We are in active discussions with a potential buyer," but he declined to identify the party or elaborate on negotiations to sell Winona Memorial. He noted that Tenet has a confidentiality agreement with bidders.
Maurer said his group submitted an updated bid last week.