Sale of Garrard hospital facilities approved

September 09, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - A deal that will result in the Garrard County Long Term Care Facility being renamed "Christian Care Center of Lancaster" was approved unanimously Monday by both the Garrard County Memorial Hospital and Long Term Care Facility boards.

Once the deal is closed in about 30 to 60 days, it will result in Care Centers Management Group of Johnson City, Tenn., buying the facilities that house the hospital, which suspended operations Aug. 29, and the nursing home, which is still in operation.

Care Centers will spend $1.45 million in the purchase.

Local board member Donna Powell said rumors that the nursing home is closing along with the hospital are not true. Care Centers Vice President Gary Parker echoed that. "The hospital is closing, the long-term care facility is not."

Parker, who will take over as interim administrator of the nursing home, said Care Centers may use the hospital space for assisted living quarters, adult day care or some kind of expanded senior adult care. "We're buying everything except the hospital equipment," he said.


Leonard Smith, chairman of the Garrard hospital board, doubts that the hospital part of the building on Maple Avenue will be used as full-fledged hospital again. "I have no optimism at all that there will be any kind of acute care facility in this building. It's not profitable to staff with doctors 24/7," he said.

"Will there be any kind of emergency room at all?" asked Donna Powell.

"I'm not optimistic in the least bit," replied Smith.

Parker said his group is interested in gauging the community's interest in local health care. "Not what they say they will support, but what they will support," he said.

The hospital and LTCF boards approved a 60-page agreement, which was in its seventh draft, said Smith. He and LTCF board Chairman Ed Montgomery said a great deal of the agreement with Care Centers has to do with "representation and warranties."

"We do not represent the property that they're selling," said Smith, speaking of the property within the facilities. "The building is suitable for its intended purpose. They (Care Centers) made the decision that this building is suitable for a long term care facility."

Smith said the "warranty" part of the agreement means that if something in the facility does not work, Care Centers will fix it, and that the Garrard hospital and LTCF boards are not responsible. The reps and warranties, Smith said, are limited to a $25,000 liability.

Care Centers not interested in much of the equipment

Care Centers is buying the entire building, but Smith said it is not interested in much of the hospital equipment and supplies. It is interested in a copier, printer and typewriter, he said.

As for the medical records still in the hospital, Ephraim McDowell Health will provide the management of those transcripts. Powell asked if Ephraim McDowell was receptive to that deal. "They didn't smile," said Smith.

Several board members asked about McDowell's role in the critical access license and the future of the 15 acute care beds. "They want those beds," said Powell.

"They want the license to operate in Garrard County," said Smith. He said the hospital board had two options with the license, give it up or give it to someone who can use it. He said he does not know what McDowell's plans are, but he said the beds must remain in Garrard County.

According to a statement issued by McDowell spokeswoman Mary Begley when the pending deal with Care Centers was announced in early August, McDowell wanted the transfer of license so they could be "a part of the future configuration of health care services in Garrard County."

Powell said that Garrard County residents want "something here," speaking of acute care services.

"Then people are going to have to show more interest," said Montgomery.

Smith said he has spoken with a broker about providing an urgent treatment center.

Care Centers will send an initial "advance payment" of $250,000, said Montgomery.

Board member Burl Cornelius suggested that the hospital and LTCF do everything they can to take care of their "good employees." But Smith said there are other priorities to take care of, such as the provider tax and litigation.

He said and Montgomery later echoed that he is committed to paying a "severance," but he said he didn't want to pay employees something just to have a court say it would have to paid back. "And that could happen," Montgomery said.

After the vote to accept Care Center's offer was unanimously approved, Montgomery said they are taking a step forward.

"That's the first time in a long time we've been able to say that."

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