Merger Brings Hale Hospital’s 1994 Suitor Back into the Picture

The former Hale Hospital when it was known as Merrimack Valley Hospital, following its sale to Essent in 2001.

Twenty-three years ago, Hale Hospital trustees rejected an offer by Brim Healthcare to buy or manage the city-owned hospital. Although diluted after several corporate mergers, the company is expected to join in ownership later this year of what is now known as Holy Family Hospital-Haverhill.

Current hospital owner, Steward Health Care of Boston, announced Friday it is merging with IASIS Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn. IASIS Healthcare bought Brim’s hospital business in 2010. The merged company will operate under the Steward name and make the company the largest private for-profit hospital operator in the country. In the spring of 1994, Brim leaders visited Haverhill leaders. Following the meeting, then Brim Vice President Terance P. John summarized the outcome in a letter.

“Once you have decided the course of action regarding your current contractual obligations, I would like to discuss any combination of management, leasing or ownership of the Hale Hospital and the Glynn Nursing Home.”

Because the city had a contract with Quorum Health Services, Brim officials were legally hindered from making a formal proposal absent the city’s specific request. Hospital trustees refused in 1995 to give Brim an opening.

“We desire to continue the services of Quorum Health Resources…We have the utmost confidence in their management and they have shown what a professional management team can do,” wrote then Chairman Warren C. Frye.

Four years later, city officials believed the hospital to be $70,000 in the black. A relatively minor loss of just under $60,000 was reported by Quorum during the first six months of 2000. By the end of the year, the city was dealing with a restated loss of $15 million. Haverhill sold the hospital to Essent Healthcare, the only bidder, for a $3.5 million. Haverhill retained construction debt and employee pension and health insurance liabilities and settled its lawsuit against Quorum for $2.8 million.

Steward bought what was then known as Merrimack Valley Hospital from Essent in 2011. Following the merger with IASIS, Steward will have 36 hospitals across 10 states, managed care operations in Arizona, Utah and Massachusetts, and projected revenues of almost $8 billion next year.

“Our physician-driven accountable care model focused on keeping patients healthy is transforming the health care industry as this transaction demonstrates,” said Dr. Ralph de la Torre, Chairman and CEO of Steward Health Care. “Our model shows how the industry can successfully shift toward a more cost-effective local, coordinated approach that puts patients first.”

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One Comment;

  1. jack said:

    “We desire to continue the services of Quorum Health Resources…We have the utmost confidence in their management and they have shown what a professional management team can do,” wrote then Chairman Warren C. Frye.”
    Brilliant decision back then huh ? So much for the expertise of the board to know what was going on at the local hackerama job bank. They almost bankrupted the city with their know it all attitude. Pay no attention to the national trend of city owned hospitals going broke and the numerous financial people who said it needed to be sold.

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