NetCare Health Systems has found local physician takers for two of the four hospitals it earmarked for sale last summer, including one that was set to close.
Central Texas Hospital in Cameron was slated to shut its doors Oct. 29, when negotiations with Tariq Mahmood, M.D., a physician from the San Antonio area, bore fruit.
Mahmood said NetCare in effect simply turned over the hospital to him to manage, without specifying a purchase price.
"They didn't have much monetary interest in the end," he said. "It was a break-even thing; there was no real benefit to them or to me, so we're starting at ground zero."
Mahmood took the reins of the 44-bed hospital effective Nov. 1. Nicholas Owens, NetCare spokesman, declined to confirm Mahmood's account of the deal's financing.
"We certainly believe that Cameron, at that point in time, a day before the deal was reached, was at the point of having no healthcare," Owens said. "We feel that the agreement was in the best interest of the community, so that's why we pursued that agreement with him."
Meanwhile, Kenneth Williams, M.D., a local physician in Holly Springs, Miss., paid about $1 million to buy another NetCare hospital, the former 20-bed Marshall County Memorial Medical Center.
Williams said the facility would have closed otherwise. NetCare bought it for $4.2 million in 1998, Williams confirmed. The hospital had been losing about $40,000 per month, he said.
Although the deal is not expected to become official until the end of this month, Williams has already taken over management of the hospital and renamed it Alliance Healthcare System. He said he hopes to attract other local physicians to buy into his for-profit ownership group.
A third NetCare hospital that was on the sales block, 50-bed Stone County Hospital in Wiggins, Miss., closed Oct. 29, after NetCare and the county failed to come to terms on a possible sale.
NetCare is in negotiations to sell the fourth hospital, 142-bed Chatuge Regional Hospital and Nursing Home in Hiawassee, Ga., to nearby Union General Hospital, a 150-bed facility in Blairsville, Ga., Owens said.
The sales and closure would leave Nashville-based NetCare with 10 hospitals in eight states.