Hutcheson Hospital officials announced the hospital will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to lease its North Georgia medical facility to a prospective healthcare partner on Wednesday.
The RFP "seeks to qualify potential regional and national targets for a long-term operating lease agreement for the hospital, which serves Walker, Dade and Catoosa counties. The RFP also allows respondents to put forth alternative proposals to the standard lease agreement," officials said.
The RFP focuses on the primary criteria of maintaining a community hospital that meets the needs of the growing population in the tri-county region and provides the best solution to the hospital’s current financial circumstances. Other criteria include the employment of the current hospital staff, proven experience in operating quality hospitals in similar communities, successful experience in actively working with local medical staff and recruiting physicians, and care to the uninsured and underinsured in the service area, it was stated.
“Hutcheson is seeking a partner that can best serve the healthcare needs of the 150,000 people living in our tri-county service area,” said Corky Jewell, chairman of the Hutcheson Medical Center board of directors. “These counties are among the fastest growing in the North Georgia and Chattanooga region.”
Officials from Hutcheson, which has been managed by Erlanger Health System since April 2011, ended an extended effort to negotiate a long-term partnership last month when officials from both hospitals were unable to come to terms on a lease agreement. Hutcheson is seeking affiliation "that allows for greater integration and collaboration, as well as a greater investment of resources in Hutcheson," it was stated.
“Hospital leaders and staff have solidified the core services and quality outcomes in recent years, and have demonstrated that the hospital can be profitable,” said Keith Greene, chairman of the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners. “The right partner will position Hutcheson for continued growth as the community hospital for our region while providing a revenue stream for the repayment and restructuring of hospital debts.”
Proposals will be due on Oct. 24. Ken Conner of Chattanooga-based Decosimo, the accounting firm managing Hutcheson’s RFP process, said it will likely take 45 to 60 days to solicit and review proposals. During the proposal period, potential respondents will be able to tour the facility, meet with medical staff, board members, county officials and members of the management team. A single proposal will be selected in mid-November and a 60-day due diligence will begin. Once a final lease agreement is reached, it is subject to a 120-day review by the attorney general for the State of Georgia. The transaction would close following final approval from the Attorney General of Georgia.
Officials said, "Meanwhile, Hutcheson continues to grow its outpatient offering and deliver high quality medical care. In the past 18 months, the hospital has opened clinics in Pulmonology, Cardiology, Multi-Specialty services, and Urgent Care medicine. On September 9, Hutcheson opened a new primary care clinic in South Catoosa County and the hospital’s new Transitional Care Clinic. In addition, the hospital recently attained an outstanding score of 95 percent in a Joint Commission Resources mock survey, which evaluates major aspects of the hospital, including infection control, medication management, patient safety, and quality of care."