OVHS&E eyes new financial partner

WHEELING – The parent corporation of two local hospitals is searching for a new financial partner after deciding it does not want to join forces with Tennessee-based Community Health Systems.

On June 6, board members for Ohio Valley Health Services & Education Corporation – parent company of Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital – announced they were going through a “due diligence” process to determine whether to partner financially with CHS.

The move would have resulted in the hospitals being partially or wholly owned by CHS. At the time, board members believed a final deal would be reached this fall, but said Thursday the negotiations had ceased.

“After working through the due diligence process, we have decided that it is in the best interest of our organization to continue and extend our research without completing an affiliation with Community Health Systems,” said Jerry Narcisi, chairman of the OVHS&E Board of Trustees. “Over the last three months, we have worked very closely with the CHS team and our team of independent consultants to make the best possible decision for our organization and community. After careful review we have made a mutual decision to discontinue talks at this time. We continue to pursue a strategic partner. Our strong financial turnaround should help us in this process.”

The corporation apparently does not have another partner in mind at this point, but officials noted the company’s financial standing is much better than in the past.

“OVHS&E has a $5.3 million operating profit through August 2012 following a $6 million operating profit of 2011, which enabled us to increase base wages for our employees. We are grateful for the wonderful support we have received from our community. We will continue our efforts to improve operations that will assure we remain a vital health resource for the region. Our affiliated physicians and dedicated employees are our strongest asset. We are grateful for their loyalty and the excellent care that they provide to all our patients every day,” said Michael Caruso, president and chief executive officer.

The hospitals were looking to receive an infusion of money from CHS in the form of equipment purchases and renovations, such as at the hospitals’ emergency rooms. A deal made with any company still must be approved by the West Virginia Health Care Authority.