A case of cosmic timing? Evanston (Ill.) Northwestern Healthcare last week initiated a bid to buy a fourth hospital a few weeks after the Federal Trade Commission wrapped up its antitrust challenge of the systems last acquisition. And that was just days after the FTC announced its first hospital merger action since opening the Evanston case in 2004.
The 629-bed system in Chicagos northern suburbs sent a letter of intent to the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board and issued a statement on its plans to acquire 229-bed Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie, Ill.
But the addition of Rush North Shore, which is 3.5 miles west of the systems flagship campus, might not present the same concerns as did the 2000 acquisition of Highland Park (Ill.) Hospital, particularly if it can be shown that the deal would rescue a failing hospital, lawyers said.
Chul Pak, a former FTC lawyer who litigated the case against Evanston Northwestern before an administrative law judge, said the systems history with the commission doesnt presage anything. Each merger is very different, said Pak, now a partner in Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati in New York. You have to understand the local dynamics to see what the payers are going to think about it and what the merging parties think this does for them.
Rush North Shore has been courting several potential buyers or partners with the resources to help it upgrade and add to its facilities and services. The Skokie hospital reported a loss of $1.7 million on revenue of $443.3 million for the period ended June 30, 2007, according to the American Hospital Directory.