Hamilton County, Ohio, commissioners voted 2-1 last week to approve transferring the county's membership in 316-bed Drake Center, Cincinnati, to six-hospital, not-for-profit Health Alliance. The county has three of nine seats on the board of Drake's corporate parent and owns the land on which the long-term acute-care and rehabilitation hospital sits.
The University of Cincinnati, which has the remaining six seats, is expected to approve transferring its membership to Health Alliance, making Health Alliance the sole member of the hospital's parent. No money will change hands. The state attorney general also must approve the transfers. The alliance is negotiating separately to buy the hospital land, buildings and equipment. Health Alliance Vice President Gail Myers said the system expects university and state approval shortly and plans to assume ownership of the hospital July 1, 2006. It has been operating the hospital under an interim management agreement since Dec. 1.
Drake lost more than $76 million on operations from 2000 to the fiscal year ended June 30, 2004, but reported net income of $2.4 million on net patient revenue of $54.3 million in 2004, according to the American Hospital Directory.
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, who voted against the transfer and is the commission's lone Democrat, said his fellow commissioners erred in approving the transfer plan. Portune said he doesn't object to Health Alliance owning the hospital, but to the agreement that a county tax levy that has long helped support it will end. "A small group of people have ignored the will of the people ... and in the process, put at risk the healthcare delivery system in Hamilton County," Portune said. That levy, in effect for 15 years and set to expire in 2009, provides $10.7 million annually to Drake Center. He said those services may end when the levy does if Health Alliance can't otherwise afford to continue them.