The 511-bed Christ Hospital in Cincinnati agreed to acquire the assets of the Ohio Heart & Vascular Center, a 33-physician practice with 18 office locations in the Cincinnati area, and will employ its doctors and the rest of its staff.
The closing hasnt occurred yet, but is imminent, said attorney Kenneth Seibel, spokesman for Ohio Heart & Vascular. Hospital spokesman Michael Beauchat says the deal should close within a few months and definitely before the end of the year. Both say no financial terms would be disclosed.
The hospital, which broke away from the now four-hospital Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati almost a year ago, is a co-defendant in a 2003 whistle-blower lawsuit with Ohio Heart & Vascular and a now-defunct company, Medical Diagnostic Associates, that the U.S. Justice Department joined this past April.
The suit alleges that the defendants devised a scheme that provided cardiologists improper financial incentives in exchange for generating revenue for the hospital, a DOJ news release says.
The defendants filed motions to dismiss on Sept. 29, and Siebel echoes previous statements that the lawsuit has no connection to the acquisition. It wasnt a factor in any way shape or form, he says. They didnt do this because of the lawsuit; they did it despite of the lawsuit.
He explains that economic pressures are leading to hospitals either buying specialty practices or hiring specialist physicians who are struggling to keeping their businesses operating on solid ground and having trouble recruiting top talent. To attract the best, you need the resources of an institution, Siebel says.
Heather Adkins, vice president and chief marketing officer for Christ Hospital, says that acquiring Ohio Heart & Vascular Center will help keep the practices physicians in town because those doctors were at risk to be plucked away by offers from other health systems in other communities. This market is tough for physicians, Adkins says. Its very hard to make it happen in primary care in this market, and were starting to see that now with specialists. Adkins says the hospital was purchasing all hard assets but not the practices cash, accounts receivable or liability. Adkins adds that all of Ohio Hearts 190 employees will keep their jobs, and that the hospital is looking to acquire other area practices as well. In so doing, she says models in which doctors are employed and in which they remain independent are both being looked at.
The Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals also recently held up the hospitals right to withdraw from the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati.