St. Vincent closes in on new hospital deal

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A deal in which St. Vincent Health would either buy or lease Bedford’s Dunn Memorial Hospital is in the final stages, according to the Times-Mail of Bedford. The hospital board held two hours of closed-door talks on May 26, and one board member predicted a decision within days.

Indianapolis-based St. Vincent, a part of St. Louis-based Ascension Health, has held exclusive talks with Dunn Memorial for nearly 18 months. St. Vincent has been trying to expand its presence statewide by offering its medical and financial resources to struggling hospitals in rural areas.

St. Vincent currently operates 17 hospitals around Indiana. A hospital spokesman said the Dunn board would be meeting again this week.

In January, St. Vincent won approval to lease the hospital in Salem for five years with an option to then buy it. St. Vincent offered in 2008 to lease Dunn for five years.

The hospital’s board rejected St. Vincent’s offer in favor of merger talks with Bedford’s other hospital, owned by Indianapolis-based Clarian Health. But the Dunn-Clarian talks broke down in late 2008, according to the newspaper.

Smaller hospitals want to join forces with larger peers for three key reasons: They need buying power to negotiate better reimbursement from insurance plans and lower prices from suppliers; they often need a larger system to provide enough patients for high-value specialists, such as heart and orthopedic surgeons or cancer specialists; and a larger financial base makes hospitals more credit-worthy, driving down their borrowing costs.

To read more about large Indiana hospital systems expanding statewide, go here.

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