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CHS pledges to invest $75 million over five years

Published: 2/6/14 @ 12:00


By William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

SHARON, PA.

Sharon Regional Health System’s board of directors recently approved the sale of the hospital and all the health system’s assets to Tennessee-based Community Health Systems.

The agreement was reached after five months of due diligence and negotiations after the Aug. 27, 2013, announcement of the signing of a letter of intent for the sale.

The agreement must be approved by the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Mercer County Orphan’s Court, Sharon Regional officials said.

Because Sharon Regional has been operated as a nonprofit since its inception, by law, it cannot sell its assets without approval of the attorney general and the orphan’s court, which traditionally in Pennsylvania has had the final approval on a sale of a nonprofit hospital to a for-profit entity, hospital officials said.

The attorney general’s public hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Sharon Council Chambers in the Sharon City Building, 155 W. Connelly Blvd. The court hearing is Feb. 26 at 112 Mercer County Courthouse, Mercer, Pa.

As part of the purchase agreement, CHS committed to invest in Sharon Regional a minimum of $75 million in facilities, services and medical technology over the next five years.

Also, CHS agrees to hire all active employees in good standing at the time the transaction closes in their same position and at their same rate of pay.

Other CHS commitments include maintaining Sharon Regional’s current medical staff and to make strong efforts to recruit new physicians to the community; continuing charity-care policies consistent with those now in place; and continuing operation of the School of Nursing and School of Radiography.

“CHS has an outstanding reputation for high quality and patient satisfaction, and we’re excited to move forward with an organization that will help position Sharon Regional for future long-term success,” said William Strimbu, chairman of the board of Sharon Regional.

“I am very excited to move forward with our affiliation with CHS,” said John R. Janoso Jr., president and chief executive officer of Sharon Regional. “Their recognition of Sharon Regional as a strong community asset and commitment to our region insures we’ll be well-positioned to serve our patients moving into the future.”

The entire approval process is expected to be completed within the next several months. Once the sale becomes final, Sharon Regional will become a tax-paying entity, contributing substantial new tax revenues to local communities, Janoso said.

If the purchase of Sharon Regional is finalized, CHS, based in Nashville, Tenn., will own two health-care systems within about a 30-minute drive of each other.

In October 2010, CHS purchased the bankrupt Forum Health for $120 million.

ValleyCare Health Care System of Ohio, a CHS affiliate, operates Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, Trumbull Memorial Hospital in Warren, and Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Howland.

Sharon Regional Health System has provided health care services to the region for more than 115 years, growing from an 18-bed hospital to Mercer County’s largest hospital and health care system.