Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., signed a letter of intent to acquire cash-strapped not-for-profit Vista Health, Waukegan, Ill., whose previous merger provoked a Federal Trade Commission look-back review. The purchase price was not disclosed. Two-hospital Vista was created in 2000 by the merger of 95-bed Provena St. Therese Medical Center and 142-bed Victory Memorial Hospital, both in Waukegan. While the FTC included Vista in a retrospective review of hospital mergers, the agency did not challenge the deal, partly because Vista continued to lose money afterwards. Vista said it has lost about $1 million a month for the past three years. In addition to the hospitals, the system also includes an outpatient surgery center, an imaging center and a retirement community, which is not part of the sale to 71-hospital Community. The deal is expected to close by year-end, subject to state regulatory approval.
In a statement, Vista President and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Martin said the system will benefit from Community's capital access, information systems and other resources. Officials at Community could not be reached for comment at deadline. Vista's previous partner, Provena Health, Mokena, Ill., transferred ownership of Provena St. Therese to Vista in 2002 and withdrew from the partnership because it was unwilling to help finance a new hospital. -- by Mark Taylor