Mercy Still Seeking Buyer, New Path for Hot Springs Hospital

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jul. 15, 2013 4:10 pm  

The deal to sell Mercy Hot Springs to Capella fell apart, but CEO Lynn Britton says selling is still an option.

Mercy Health still is interested in selling Mercy Hot Springs, CEO Lynn Britton said in a statement, even though a deal to sell the Catholic hospital to Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn., collapsed last month.

In the statement released Friday, Britton said Mercy, of Chesterfield, Mo., is pursing two paths for Mercy Hot Springs, which includes the 282-bed hospital and 80-physician clinic.

The first possibility is for Mercy is to sell the Hot Springs location to another health care organization.

"Efforts are underway to identify potential systems and discuss their interest," Britton said in the statement.

The details for the other plan are less clear, but call for Mercy to "reimagine Mercy Hot Springs under continuing Mercy sponsorship, focusing on what the community most needs from a local health care provider and what is sustainable," Britton said. "Local leadership and board members are working diligently to develop that proposal."

He said Mercy is working with Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock as it considers both options.

Britton told Arkansas Business in May 2012 that the Hot Springs location wasn't sustainable and Mercy would have to lay off employees or slash services if it remained there.

Britton said he hopes to a decision Mercy Hot Springs' future will be reached by September.

Britton said the Mercy board and management team still believe it's best for the Hot Springs community is to have one health care provider, even though some members in the community and the Federal Trade Commission didn't support the merger with Capella's National Park Medical Center.

In a statement released after Mercy and Capella called off the deal, the FTC said it had been prepared to challenge the proposed sale.

The proposal faced opposition from the start, prompting the resignation of one director on Mercy's national board, Oaklawn Park General Manager Eric Jackson. "I have a strong conviction" that a faith-based, nonprofit hospital is the best hospital for Hot Springs, Jackson said at the time.



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