Officials with Hutcheson Medical Center and Erlanger Health System on Thursday jointly announced that the two hospitals finalized a Letter of Intent for Hutcheson to lease its facility to Erlanger. The Letter of Intent was also approved by commissioners from Walker, Dade, and Catoosa counties, who announced the three counties will proceed with bonding the hospital’s debt when the formal lease agreement is finalized.
“The team at Hutcheson Medical Center has proven under Erlanger’s leadership that it can serve the medical needs of the North Georgia community and return to profitability,” said Keith Greene, chairman of the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners. “Erlanger’s long-term commitment to lease the facility ensures the progress in those areas will continue to gain momentum.”
Officials from both hospital systems stated the proposed lease is a natural next step for both entities given Erlanger’s current management agreement with Hutcheson. “A leasing agreement would further solidify the relationship with Erlanger and allow Hutcheson to continue its mission as a community hospital for the residents of Walker, Dade and Catoosa counties,” stated Roger Forgey, president and CEO of Hutcheson and Senior Vice-President with the Erlanger Health System.
At Thursday night’s board meeting, Erlanger trustees voted unanimously to enter into a letter of intent to finalize a lease arrangement dependent on successful completion of a due diligence process to ensure financial viability of the business partnership between Erlanger and Hutcheson. “I am pleased that our board voted unanimously to complete the due diligence process towards solidifying this lease agreement and business partnership between Erlanger and Hutcheson,” said Ron Loving, Erlanger board chairman.
“We are extremely excited about plans to continue working in a true partnership with Hutcheson, their talented employees and physicians,” said Erlanger president and CEO, Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE. “This promising partnership has always been centered on providing quality healthcare for residents of North Georgia,” he added. “Our initial focus will be on enhancing technology, quality, and strengthening relationships with community physicians.”
The Hutcheson Medical Center Board of Directors has been working with the counties since September 2012 to consolidate the debt accumulated by previous administrations. “The hospital’s management team has skillfully managed the burden of old debt and rebuilt the hospital’s services,” said Chairman Corky Jewell. “This lease partnership and the counties’ commitment to our success validate their hard work.”
“Hutcheson is a valuable asset to Walker County citizens,” said Bebe Heiskell, Sole Commissioner for Walker County. “We believe the partnership with Erlanger allows for the long-term viability of Hutcheson in a way that does not put taxpayers at risk. I am very impressed with the new CEO of Erlanger, Kevin Spiegel. His plans and goals for Hutcheson are consistent with my vision for Hutcheson Medical Center,” she stated.
“Hutcheson Medical Center is vital to the economic success of our North Georgia communities,” said Ted Rumley, chairman of the Dade County Board of Commissioners. “Together with Erlanger, the hospital will continue to provide high quality jobs and even better healthcare for the community.”