St. Vincent eyeing hospital in Salem

November 26, 2008

St. Vincent Health is in discussions with leaders of a 25-bed hospital in Salem, which is halfway between Bedford and Louisville, according to Business First Louisville.

Directors of Washington County Memorial Hospital are talking with St. Vincent officials about becoming an affiliate of the Indianapolis-based hospital system. Business First reported that both hospitals have signed a non-binding confidentiality agreement while they explore the affiliation.

St. Vincent, which already operates 18 hospitals in Indiana, has said recently that it's interested in expanding its presence statewide. It also has said smaller hospitals throughout Indiana have expressed interest in partnering more frequently.

"We're having talks, maybe more than we ever have before," Kevin Speer, chief strategy officer at St. Vincent Health, said during an October interview with IBJ. "We're in a growth mode," he added.

It's not clear if an affiliation would entail a merger of the two hospitals or simply a patient-referral agreement or something in between. Smaller hospitals are increasingly looking to larger systems to give them greater access to medical specialists and debt financing.

From 1991 to 2007, Washington County Memorial Hospital was affiliated with Louisville-based Jewish Hospital.

Washington County CEO Randy Lindauer said in a news release that St. Vincent can help his hospital grow.

"In order for our hospital to grow and evolve, it is necessary to align with an organization that can help us improve the quality of care for our patients and allow us to maximize our health care resources," Lindauer said, according to Business First. "We look forward to working with St. Vincent Health on this exciting venture. Over the next few weeks and months we will be working in collaboration to produce a mutually beneficial agreement for both organizations."

St. Vincent officials declined to comment to Business First on the possibility of an affiliation with Washington County Memorial.

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