CULLMAN AND TUSCALOOSA, ALA.—Hospitals across the South scrambled to maintain operations and treat patients after a series of powerful storms last week left hundreds dead and the region heavily damaged. While 115-bed Cullman Regional Medical Center did not suffer any direct damage, the hospital was in a hard-hit area and treated 99 patients in its emergency department during the storms, said Jim Weidner, the hospital's president and CEO. Cullman Regional Medical Center officials activated the hospital's emergency preparedness system at 3 p.m. April 27. “Because of that, we were well-prepared and we were able to handle the onslaught of patients,” Weidner said. DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa treated about 600 patients in the hours since a milewide tornado cut through the area, Brad Fisher, a hospital spokesman, told news affiliate WLBT.
Regional News/South: Extreme weather tests Alabama hospitals' emergency preparedness, and other news
The 486-bed hospital suffered damage such as broken windows and was without water for six hours. Power was restored early April 28, Fisher said. The hospital had admitted nearly 100 people, and five were reported dead as of the morning of April 28, Fisher told WLBT. According to figures from the Alabama Hospital Association, approximately 1,500 people affected by the storms had received treatment at hospitals as of 10:30 a.m. April 28. Of those, 266 were admitted and 13 deaths were observed. “At this time, there are no reports of structural damage to hospitals that would affect their operations in treating patients, although several lost power temporarily, with a few still operating on generator power,” the association said in a statement.
BATESVILLE, Miss.—Health Management Associates, Naples, Fla., has signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture with the physician owners of 110-bed Tri-Lakes Medical Center, according to an HMA news release. HMA will take a 95% interest in the joint venture and manage its operations. No financial terms were disclosed. HMA expects the deal to close June 1, according to the release. HMA will bring its experience operating non-urban hospitals and whole-hospital joint ventures; its presence in Mississippi, where it operates 10 hospitals; and its financial resources to Tri-Lakes, according to a statement attributed to Gary Newsome, president and CEO of HMA. Upon completion of the deal, HMA will operate 60 hospitals.
STOCKBRIDGE, Ga.—Henry Medical Center has announced plans to partner with Atlanta-based Piedmont HealthCare. According to the terms of the long-term lease agreement, the Hospital Authority of Henry County will retain ownership of Henry Medical Center, which will become a subsidiary of Piedmont. The announcement follows an earlier failed partnership effort involving Piedmont and St. Joseph's Health System, Atlanta. In August 2010, Piedmont and St. Joseph's formally ended talks after trying to form a joint operating company. In a news release, Charlie Scott, Henry Medical Center's president and CEO, said the hospital's reasons for choosing Piedmont included its financial standing, its record of quality improvement and its community-hospital focus. Piedmont and Henry Medical Center will soon start formal negotiations to develop a definitive affiliation agreement, which must then be approved by Georgia's attorney general's office. That process is expected to take several months.
COLUMBIA, S.C.—Providence Hospital, Columbia, S.C., is laying off 35 employees as part of a $7.9 million cost-cutting plan, according to a spokesman. All of the positions are full time and the layoffs will save $2.8 million annually, said John Kessler, vice president of marketing and business development. Providence also is eliminating weekend differential pay and a system that pays workers for 36 hours for every 24 hours that they work, changes that will save an additional $1.2 million, Kessler said. The remainder of the savings will come from negotiating better terms for supplies and reducing marketing, legal and other variable costs, Kessler said. Providence is cutting costs in anticipation of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid based on its reading of politics in Washington and Columbia, the state capital, Kessler said. Providence recorded operating income of $5.7 million in 2010 on net patient service revenue of $291.9 million, according to Kessler. The 316-bed Providence Hospital includes two campuses and is part of Sisters of Charity Health Systems, Cleveland.
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