Two physicians are asking Orange County, Calif., officials to look into the pending sale of four Tenet Healthcare Corp. hospitals to Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Costa Mesa, Calif., because of their concerns about a physician investor in Integrated, the Los Angeles Times reported. Michael Fitzgibbons was former chief of staff at one of the hospitals, Western Medical Center-Santa Ana (Calif.), and failed in his bid to buy the hospital earlier this year. Fitzgibbons told Orange County supervisors that he questioned whether Integrated had the financial wherewithal to keep the hospitals open. County officials were uncertain whether they had any authority over the transaction.
Fitzgibbons and Robert Steedman, Western Medical's current chief of staff, criticized Integrated for working with Kali Chaudhuri, an orthopedic surgeon and founder of KPC Medical Management, a clinic operator that went bankrupt in 2000. Fitzgibbons and Steedman could not be reached at deadline. Chaudhuri told the Times that he is an investor in Integrated but would not manage the hospitals, which would be the company's first. Integrated President Larry Anderson told the newspaper that Chaudhuri is one of several investors in the company and noted that company executives have operated hospitals in California and elsewhere. The Orange County Physicians Investment Network recently put $5 million into Integrated, and Integrated said the network could invest $15 million more in the next year. -- by Vince Galloro