Ardent's Youngstown commitment, and what the unions think

Local news outlets in Youngstown, Ohio, are all buzzing with news that Community Health Systems — and possibly other future bidders — are eyeing up Forum Health, which Ardent Health Services plans to purchase for $69.8 million.

“We believe our work over the past eight months with Forum employees and their union representatives, and with city, state and congressional leaders, demonstrates our unique approach to working in close partnership with the entire community to create a solution that protects and advances hospital care here,” Kevin Gwin, vice president of communications, said in a written statement.

Ardent, with headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., has signed a purchase agreement with the Forum Board of Trustees. But this week, Community Health Systems, with headquarters in Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville, began a “due diligence” process preparatory to potentially submitting a competing bid. A Forum union leader said CHS has requested meetings, believed to be in preparation for developing a possible offer to buy Forum.

Tipping the scales in Ardent's favor, at least for now, is the Nashville company's agreements with local unions. But another story this morning indicates union officials are willing to consider their options:

"It's a little bit more of a roller coaster ride, but we also think in the long run though, that these things are going to be better for us," said Tom Connelly, who leads AFSCME Local 2026. "I mean more options, more things to look at, more companies to go with, or whatever."

"Somebody may be better for the community, and for this institution, than just the one bidder," said Shari Williams, AFSCME Local 2026.