Originally created 08/25/06

Surgeons to gain ownership

Hoping to breathe new life into it, University Hospital is turning its surgery center in Evans into a joint venture with its surgeons.

University's board voted Thursday to transfer the license to its ambulatory surgery center in Evans to a new joint venture that will be called the Surgery Center of Columbia County LLC.

The new company will lease the center for about $400,000 a year. Half of the venture will be owned by a for-profit arm of University called University Health Resources, which will put in at least $1.1 million. The other half will be ownership shares that can be purchased by surgeons on University's staff for $22,650 each. University is hoping that at least 20 surgeons will sign up, said Andrew Lasser, the executive vice president for business development.

Dr. Randy Smith, the chairman of Health Resources, said he was told that about 35 surgeons had expressed interest. The sale of the shares will close by Sept. 30 and University can back out if not enough surgeons sign up.

"More people are interested in looking at practicing out there, and there's more people out there to serve," Dr. Lasser said.

Volume at the center has not lived up to expectations so far, he said.

"We're just looking to grow that because it's been very sporadic," Dr. Lasser said.

Surgeons could not buy in if they have an ownership interest in the nearby surgery center owned by Doctors Hospital, but could if they had a stake in the one on Walton Way because it is more than 10 miles away, he said. Surgeons could jointly own an interest in the center and in St. Joseph Hospital but could not serve on the center's board.

Triad Hospitals Inc. of Plano, Texas, has an agreement to buy St. Joseph in conjunction with a number of Augusta physicians, pending approval by the Georgia Attorney General's Office.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.



University Hospital is selling ownership stakes in its Evans surgery center to some of its surgeons. University hopes to have the sale wrapped up by Sept. 30.


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