After waiting 21/2 years and spending a fortune in legal fees to beat a federal antitrust challenge, Tenet Healthcare Corp. finally bought 186-bed Doctors Regional Medical Center, Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Last week, Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet completed its $40.5 million purchase of the privately held hospital, which it merged with its 173-bed Lucy Lee Hospital, the only other hospital in Poplar Bluff, to form Lucy Lee Health System.
Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson said, "It's a real pleasure for us to finally be able to start implementing what we've wanted to do and what so many people in the area have wanted all along: to get the legal wrangle behind us and focus on what's important-delivering quality healthcare."
Tenet first announced its intention to buy Doctors Regional in April 1997. But an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission put the deal on hold.
From the beginning, Anderson said, the company was confident that its case was solid and its cause was right.
"Both facilities were underutilized," he said. "But together they make sense."
The FTC contended the sale would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which bars acquisitions that substantially reduce competition or create a monopoly.
In July 1998, a federal district court judge granted the FTC's motion for a preliminary injunction to block the sale pending the outcome of the agency's administrative antitrust complaint against the hospitals. A federal appeals court overturned that ruling, however, and the FTC earlier this month decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The FTC is now expected to withdraw its administrative complaint.
Anderson said Tenet offered jobs to all 600 Doctors Regional employees and has no immediate plans for layoffs as the two hospitals consolidate.