Duke LifePoint has finalized another joint venture in its North Carolina network and will pump $60 million in capital improvements to Rutherford Regional Health System in Rutherfordton, N.C.
Through the deal, Duke LifePoint will own 80 percent of the system and RRHS will maintain a 20 percent ownership stake. The joint venture between Duke University Health System and Nashville-based LifePoint Hospitals now owns four hospitals in North Carolina as well as a catheterization company.
"Duke LifePoint is excited to expand our presence in North Carolina and welcome Rutherford Regional to our system," Bill Carpenter, LifePoint chairman and CEO, said in a release. "Duke LifePoint and Rutherford Regional share a mission of making this region healthier. We are looking forward to beginning our journey to enhance care here and strengthening Rutherford Regional and its communities for the future."
Duke LifePoint Healthcare has turned to industry veteran Jerry Dooley to be interim CEO of Wilson Medical Center in North Carolina. Dooley, who has repeatedly filled a similar role for LifePoint in recent years, replaces Rick Hudson, who has retired following the completion of Duke LifePoint's acquisition of 80 percent of Wilson Medical. Wilson Medical has initiated a national search process for a permanent CEO.
"We are confident that Jerry can successfully lead the transition for Wilson Medical Center as it becomes part of Duke LifePoint's network of hospitals," Bill Carpenter, chairman and CEO of LifePoint, said in a release. "He is a seasoned hospital executive who will be a great addition to the Wilson team until a permanent CEO is named."
The Wilson Medical deal brings Duke LifePoint's North Carolina network of holdings to five. The joint venture has committed to a minimum of $120 million in capital investments at the hospital, east of Raleigh, over the next decade.
Wayne Smith, chairman, president and CEO of Community Health Systems, says his team's fledgling collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic appears to be giving it a boost in the merger market. Speaking to Reuters as part of a story on the rising importance of academic partnerships — Williamson County neighbor LifePoint Hospitals is building a solid track record with its Duke LifePoint joint venture — Smith said CHS has been approached by a number of on-the-block hospitals since announcing the Cleveland Clinic partnership two months ago.
Despite upping its bid from $138.7 million to $200 million at the last minute, Duke LifePoint has lost out on the rights to run a Florida hospital for the next 40 years.
The Post reported last week about a bidding war over Munroe Regional Medical Center between Duke LifePoint, a joint venture of Duke University and Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals, and Florida-based Health Management Associates.
Late last week, the hospital’s board of trustees voted 6-1 in favor of HMA’s bid. One trustee told the Star Banner, Ocala’s daily newspaper, that he voted for the HMA deal because the company had a stronger footprint in the Sunshine State. The trustee said he was afraid Duke LifePoint would pay more attention to hospitals in states, such as North Carolina, where it oversees more facilities.
HMA also sweetened the pot at the last minute with an offer to invest $1.5 million in the Ocala community.
What difference does $60 million make when you are determined to buy a hospital in Florida?
Duke LifePoint, a joint venture of Duke University and Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals, has increased its bid for Ocala-based Munroe Regional Medical Center from $138.7 million to $200 million, according to the Star Banner, Ocala’s daily newspaper.
The current $200 million bid is equal to Health Management Associates’ offer for the 421-bed hospital. HMA is a for-profit provider based in Florida. The Star Banner article (read more here) reports the hospital’s management was alarmed at the more than $60 million discrepancy between the bids and was seriously considering the bid from HMA, despite having the opportunity to work in a partnership with a high-profile national name such as Duke.
"We believe this potential relationship is an excellent match for both of our organizations, and we have a great opportunity to work together to enhance healthcare delivery throughout Marion County and the surrounding region,” Diane Huggins, LifePoint's vice president of corporate communications, wrote in a statement to the Star Banner. “The increase in the offer made by Duke LifePoint demonstrates our confidence in our ability to add significant value to secure the future success of the hospital.”
LifePoint (Ticker: LPNT) owns or leases nearly 60 hospitals in 20 states, but only one in Florida. HMA owns or operates 22 hospitals throughout Florida.