Two companies expressed interest in purchasing Eastern Ozarks Regional Health System, Cherokee Village, Ark., a 40-bed for-profit hospital that closed earlier this month under pressure from state regulators. Associated Healthcare Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., has requested updated financial statements for Eastern Ozarks in order to begin performing due diligence on a possible purchase, said Associated Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer A. Ronald Turner. Associated Healthcare owns six other rural hospitals, leases a seventh, and last week agreed to buy 172-bed Samaritan Hospital, Lexington, Ky., from Ardent Health Services, pending regulatory review. Also interested in Eastern Ozarks is Extended Health Systems, Hayti, Mo., according to an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Extended Health officials weren't available for comment at deadline.
A not-for-profit hospital is also in the early planning stages for Cherokee Village. Local residents formed the Sharp Medical Foundation with the aim of building a community hospital, said Mayor Ray Maynard, who sits on the foundation's board. The foundation considered buying the hospital, but the purchase price was too great, Maynard said. Eastern Ozarks Administrator Terry Cruse did not return a call for comment. -- by Paul Barr