Baptist loses interim CEO
* Daniel Rissing, hired just over a month ago as interim chief executive officer at Baptist Health System, Birmingham, Ala., abruptly quit the top job last week, officials said. Rissing was expected to serve as interim CEO for at least 90 days while the 10-hospital system conducted a search for a permanent replacement for Dennis Hall, who was fired July 12 in a board shake-up that quashed plans to sell Baptist to a for-profit hospital company. Rissing said his decision was based on "pressing personal reasons," according to a news release. The board has decided not to name another interim CEO.
Unity, ViaHealth to merge
* Unity Health System and ViaHealth, Rochester, N.Y., agreed last week to merge into a three-hospital system and will take the next six to nine months to proceed with regulatory filings, due diligence and development of a definitive agreement. Officials said that after five years a merger could save as much as $25 million. It is doubtful any hospitals would close, but there could be layoffs-an estimated 125 employees, or roughly 1% of the combined workforce of 11,000, officials said. Unity earned $4.8 million on $279 million in revenue last year. ViaHealth, which last year closed its second hospital in less than two years, lost $13 million on $515 million in revenue in 2002.
Merger talks collapse in Calif.
* Negotiations to save debt-ridden Santa Paula (Calif.) Memorial Hospital by rolling it into Ventura County's public healthcare system collapsed last week after county officials deemed the deal too risky for taxpayers. The 49-bed private hospital, which is losing about $200,000 per month, had been in talks since June to merge with 208-bed Ventura County Medical Center. But the plan fizzled after the community hospital refused to disclose certain financial information and negotiators failed to agree on lease terms, taxes and rental rates to protect the county's interests.