Vista Health, Waukegan, Ill., owes $34 million to its former partner Provena Health, Mokena, Ill., under the terms of their failed merger, an arbitrator has ruled. Vista Health said the ruling doesn't require a lump-sum payment as Provena requested but allows payment according to a previously agreed-upon schedule. Vista Health merged its Victory Memorial Hospital with Provena St. Therese Medical Center, both in Waukegan, in 2000. Two years later, six-hospital Provena announced it would withdraw from the partnership because it was unwilling to finance Vista Health's long-range plan to build a new hospital. Sources said the merger agreement required Provena to leave St. Therese to the joint venture but called for Vista Health to pay the outstanding bond debt. In his decision Wednesday, the arbitrator, Jerald Esrick of Wildman Harrold in Chicago, said that although Vista Health now lacks the resources to pay Provena in full, the system "has a continuing, contingent responsibility to work to satisfy that debt." Vista Health said the payment schedule would allow it to proceed with its long-term consolidation strategy. Provena said it was pleased to end the matter. -- by Mark Taylor
Former merger partners resolve dispute over debt
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