The Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati may lose another hospital and perhaps two, rendering it a much smaller system than it once was and not much of an alliance at all.
Making a break
More hospitals attempt to leave Health Alliance
The alliance not long ago ended a lengthy, bitter and high-profile legal battle over the departure of three hospitals, and it has been working toward an agreement to purchase one of its member hospitals, 209-bed Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, which may otherwise be acquired by another suitor.
Now another member, 185-bed Fort Hamilton Hospital, secured an agreement providing for its orderly departure from the alliance should the hospital board conclude that either scenario with Jewish Hospital is not in Fort Hamilton Hospitals best interest.
At this point, that seems likely, said Fort Hamilton Board Chairman Robert Weigel, a funeral home owner in the hospitals hometown of Hamilton, about 30 miles north of Cincinnati. The Health Alliance will evolve to be something else, Weigel said.
Health Alliance spokesman Tony Condia said he expected the future of Jewish Hospital to be resolved as soon as early July.
The alliance not long ago included seven hospitals and now stands at five, including the new West Chester (Ohio) Medical Center and a 168-bed rehabilitation hospital, both of which are wholly owned by the system. Either scenario with Jewish Hospital would leave Fort Hamilton Hospital and the University of Cincinnatithe owner of 438-bed University Hospitalas the only remaining parties to the alliances joint-operating agreement.
Fort Hamilton Hospitals board expects that the University of Cincinnati will play an increasingly dominant role in steering the alliances path forwarda path that might be right for the system but not necessarily good for Fort Hamilton, Weigel said. He also noted that the West Chester hospital is adjacent to our service area. Were being very parochial about what happens in the city of Hamilton, Weigel said. Asked if theres any scenario in which he could see his hospital remaining in the alliance, he answered, I dont see it, but Ive seen stranger things, too.
In January, the alliance resolved its dispute with 511-bed Christ Hospital, a charter signatory to the 1995 agreement that created the alliance (Jan. 19, p. 12). The agreement settled the financial terms of the separation Christ Hospital had won in a protracted legal battle. The lawsuit also paved the way for the departure of two other early members of the alliance, St. Luke Hospital West, Florence, Ky., and St. Luke Hospital East in Fort Thomas, Ky., which have joined 482-bed St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Covington, Ky., together taking the name St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
This is not that kind of situation, Weigel said. That should tell you a lot right there. Both Condia and Weigel said the departure of Fort Hamilton Hospital, if it happens, will be amicable and orderly, though likely to take several months or even years because all of the hospitals back office services have been handled by the alliance for more than a decade.
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