University Hospital cleared to acquire McDuffie Regional Medical Center

The Georgia Attorney General’s office has signed off on the transfer of McDuffie Regional Medical Center to University Hospital, University announced Tuesday.

The Attorney General found that the Thomson-based hospital’s charitable assets would be safeguarded in the transfer. University has also pledged to build a $25 million to $30 million replacement hospital building just off Interstate 20. University will build the building within two years of closing, which could be later this month. The transfer comes after more than a year of negotiations, University said in a news release.

“This is an exciting day for University Health Care System and for the people who live and work in McDuffie County,” University CEO Jim Davis said. “A few key people with input and direction from McDuffie County community, physicians and other community leaders worked hard during trying times to ensure that McDuffie County residents have high-quality health care close to home.”

During a public hearing the Attorney General’s Office held in late March in Thomson, no one stepped forward to voice objections to the sale. Concerns had been raised about what would happen to downtown Thomson, where the hospital is now located, after the replacement hospital is built. University is in talks with the Family Y of Thomson to use part of the building and another part will probably still be used for outpatient services, officials have said.

McDuffie Regional began losing money around the end of 2009. Losses seemed to accelerate and threatened to deplete the hospital’s reserves, members of the Hospital Authority of McDuffie County have said. In addition to the replacement hospital, an upgrade in services from the affiliation with University, the preservation of jobs and increased revenue could provide a community benefit of between $49 million and $58 million, a financial expert hired by the hospital authority testified at the hearing.

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