Deaconess Deal: Sale Pending (June 2007) - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Deaconess Deal: Sale Pending (June 2007)

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*Editors Note: This story was first published in June 2007.

SPOKANE, Wash. - It's being called a landmark day for the healthcare industry in Spokane. Empire Health Services, the company that runs Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center has signed a letter of intent, to be sold to Community Health Systems.

It's a sale that would transform the landscape of local healthcare. CHS is a major for-profit company that could soon own a major piece of the local healthcare puzzle.

The questions:
What does it mean to you, the patient? What does it mean to the staff, doctors, nurses, and other staff members? What does it mean to the Spokane economy? What has CHS done in other communities?

KHQ has been working extensively on this deal for a month now. Peruse our "Deaconess Deal: Sale Pending" section for answers to all these questions.|

Community Health Services, based in Franklin, Tennessee made $4.4 billion in revenue in 2006, running 80 hospitals in 23 different states.

When you think of Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center you may think of history, help, and a heartbeat for healthcare. But after 100 years of service, that's about to change. Why?

Money, or a lack thereof, is forcing Empire Health Services to partner with another group. 

The deal is three years in the making. Last fall, potential suitors were narrowed down and the sale process began to pick up steam. Select board members flew to different parts of the country to see first hand how potential buyers' facilities ran.

After viewing two facilities run by C.H.S., one in Easton, Pennsylvania and one in Lancaster, N.C., board members selected Community Health Systems as a partner and now the two have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to move forward on a deal.

If the sale goes through the two hospitals would go from not-for-profit to for-profit, meaning they would pay taxes.

Current employees would be guaranteed their jobs with the new company as long as they are active and in good standing. These employees would retain their seniority level and salary.

The bottom line to patients would amount to eventually having access to better medical technology and resources. This deal is not finished, but with no snags the sale could go through by the end of this year.