Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital in Merger Talks
Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura and Ojai Valley Community Hospital have entered discussions concerning a possible merger, officials from the two institutions announced Tuesday, the Ventura County Star reports (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 6/30). Gary Wilde, CEO of CMH, said that talks between the institutions began six weeks ago. According to the Los Angeles Times, CMH is the "larger and more profitable" of the two hospitals, while OVCH is the last independent rural hospital in Ventura County, following the closure of Santa Paula Memorial Hospital (Covarrubias, Los Angeles Times, 7/1).
OVCH board members said that the hospital is in "not nearly as precarious" of a situation as that of SPMH but added that "financial stability could improve" through a merger with CMH, the Star reports. Dr. Martin Pops, chair of the foundation that owns the Ojai hospital, said that the facility has been operating at a slight profit during the past few years and has a debt of $2 million. However, he said that the hospital faces with increases in costs for labor, equipment and seismic retrofitting projects that must be completed by 2013, the Star reports. Pops also said that a merger with CMH, a 240 bed-hospital with about 1,500 staff members, would hopefully expand health services provided for patients. OVCH serves 35,000 people; the 100-bed hospital has 260 staff members.
Wilde said that if the merger occurred, the hospitals likely would maintain separate facilities, licenses and medical staffs. He said that he did not know if layoffs would be included in the merger, but that some small service consolidations might take place. Wilde said that hospital manager and board managers were now entering a "due dilligence" phase to look into financial records and develop a strategic plan (Ventura County Star, 6/30). According to the Times, Wilde said that the hospitals were well-suited for merger because they are both not-for-profit community hospitals that cater to local residents. He added, "If we can do something to strengthen another hospital and that helps us to meet our mission to serve the community, while strengthening ourselves, then that's a benefit for both of us." He said if the merger occurred, it would probably take place in the fall (Los Angeles Times, 7/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.