Hancock may sell HMC to Ochsner
By Dwayne Bremer
Sep 13, 2013, 22:34
Members of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors said Wednesday that they would be open to the idea of selling Hancock Medical Center to offset the county's current financial crisis, but no official negotiations have begun yet.
The comments were made during a budget workshop Wednesday with county employees.
Supervisors have ordered budget cuts in several county departments, which may result in county employee lay-offs for the first time in recent history.
"We are trying to figure out how to raise revenues any way we can," board Vice-President Steve Seymour said. "We have a possible sale that could help us get out of this bind."
Board President Lisa Cowand said she would be open to the idea of selling HMC, but her main concern is someone buying the hospital and closing it.
Last week, supervisors changed management companies at HMC.
The county brought in Ochsner Health Services on a 90-day contract, but officials have been non-committal about the future of the hospital beyond that.
New HMC Director Patty Davenport said Tuesday that Ochsner will be doing "due diligence" and assessing the hospital's strengths and needs over the next three months.
Due diligence is generally a term used when corporations are investigating the pros and cons of buying a property or making an investment.
Cowand said Tuesday that there has been no discussion yet about Ochsner buying HMC.
Hancock Medical is a publicly-owned hospital under the ultimate control of the board of supervisors.
Earlier this summer, representatives of the county's former management company, Quorum Health Services told supervisors that the hospital was in a difficult financial situation.
Quorum officials asked supervisors to allow the hospital to secure a $6 million bond issue and possibly levy a five mil tax to keep the hospital afloat.
Supervisors took no action on either request and changed management companies a few weeks later.
Supervisors said Wednesday that there are several reasons for the county's current financial situation.
Over the past few years, the county has seen: A dramatic increase in insurance costs; incurred costs from utilities associated with new facilities; increases in the state's retirement system reimbursement plan; and other issues.
Despite the additional costs, supervisors have remained adamant about not raising millage.
"I can assure you that we are going to look at every avenue we can before we ask the tax payers for a milage increase," Seymour said.