University Hospital has an agreement to buy McDuffie Regional Medical Center and operate a replacement hospital in McDuffie County, but the sale still has “a long way to go,” University CEO Jim Davis said Wednesday.
In a joint statement issued by the McDuffie County Hospital Authority and University, officials acknowledge the struggling Thomson hospital’s ability to survive in the long term was “questionable.” The hospital campus is aging and, while there is not much debt, “our access to capital for improvements or replacement of the campus is severely limited,” McDuffie Regional Board Chairman Bill Doupé said.
“We have come to the conclusion that working with a local, nonprofit health care system with a long history of serving patients with high-quality care is best for the future of McDuffie County and us being able to continue to provide quality patient care in our county,” Doupé said.
The agreement would have University operate the medical center and build a replacement hospital in the county.
“University plans to offer employment to all McDuffie Regional’s qualified employees with comparable wages, benefits and maintenance of seniority,” the statement says.
Davis said health care reform and funding cuts make it “increasingly difficult for small hospitals to survive in these economically challenging times.”
The agreement will be submitted to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office for review. If it follows a process similar to the sale of St. Joseph Hospital in 2006, that review will include a public hearing and the chance to comment on the potential sale. If approved, University could take over as early as January, according to the statement.