COLUMBIA: To Sell Massachusetts-based MetroWest To Tenet
Furthering its expansion into New England, Tenet Healthcare Corp. yesterday signed a letter of intent to buy Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s 80% stake in MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham and Natick, MA, the Boston Globe reports. For Santa Barbara, CA-based Tenet, "the acquisition" of MetroWest "is key to its goal of forming a hospital network in New England," adding it to St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, MA, and the in-progress purchase of Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, RI. "If you look at those three hospitals on a map ... they form a nice triangle. MetroWest is a significant hospital in an area that's important strategically," said Tenet spokesperson Harry Anderson.
Tenet -- which operates 123 hospitals nationwide -- has long expressed interest in buying the 475-bed, 2,500- employee MetroWest facilities, although some local critics such as Nobel Prize-winning cardiologist Dr. Bernard Lown "are concerned about how the need of for-profit hospital companies to satisfy shareholder demands for return on investment will affect the way these hospitals treat their patients." Moving to alleviate these fears, and to win the approval of nonprofit MetroWest Health Partner Inc., which owns 20% of the hospital, Tenet has promised to maintain current levels of charity care. Tenet also promised to spend up to $18 million on capital improvement projects, continue ER services at the hospital for up to three years and to provide free transportation between the Framingham and Natick campuses. When a final agreement is reached on the sale, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the state attorney general will review the deal (Pham, 6/23).
In separate news, Columbia announced that George Morgan has been appointed as senior vice president for managed care, effective July 1. Currently president of the ambulatory surgery division, Morgan will oversee managed care, physician services and the company's ambulatory surgery centers in his new position (Columbia release, 6/22).