Associated Healthcare Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., will buy 172-bed Samaritan Hospital, Lexington, Ky., from Ardent Health Services as soon as Kentucky certificate-of-need officials finish their review of the transaction, the investor-owned companies said. Associated then intends to complete within six months a syndication agreement to bring physicians in as equity partners in the hospital, said A. Ronald Turner, Associated's president and chief executive officer. The company was interested in buying Samaritan when it was put up for sale in 2001 by HCA, but Ardent made a better offer. Turner said he reminded Ardent President and CEO David Vandewater that Associated still had interest in the hospital and that eventually sparked a deal. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The hospital continues to perform well, Turner said. The transaction, expected to close next month, would give Associated eight owned or operated hospitals.
Since acquiring Samaritan, Ardent, based in Nashville, has focused on operating larger hospital systems in midsized urban markets, including Albuquerque and Tulsa, Okla. Ardent said last month it will restate financial results for 2003 and the first six months of 2004 because of faulty accounting that resulted in an imbalance of $14.5 million on transactions between its health plan and hospitals in Albuquerque. Pre-tax income from continuing operations in 2003 is expected to drop by between $3 million and $8 million, the company said. With the Samaritan sale, Ardent would have 14 acute-care and 20 behavioral-health hospitals. -- by Vince Galloro