LHP Hospital Group would not cut jobs or pay, change the way patients are treated, or turn around and sell Central Peninsula Hospital, the company's chief executive officer promised on Thursday.
"Our commitment is to keep all the employees with their current tenure and compensation," Dan Moen, LHP's CEO, said. "And our goal, really, is to grow the number of employees."
More employees would come from increased local services, such as a cancer treatment center and a cardiac lab, that LHP's capital would allow CPH to develop, according to Moen.
In a telephone interview with the Clarion this week, Moen stressed little would change on a day-to-day basis if LHP were to partner with the hospital, currently borough-owned. The partnership has the backing of CPH's governing board, but it still needs Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approval.
"The community is not selling the hospital. While we put up the majority of the equity, control remains with the local joint venture board," Moen said. "The hospital and its historic mission will continue as a locally controlled facility. We will keep all employees, with the same local management in place. We plan to take care of patients in a high-standing manner, including those who can't pay."
Texas-based LHP, formerly Triad Hospitals, currently has three joint venture partnerships. Moen said they are truly equal partnerships.
"I can tell you with a lot of confidence that we never had an issue that we couldn't resolve," Moen said. "If they (the local board) had a proposal we didn't agree with or vice versa, we collaboratively resolved it one way or the other."
In interviews with the Clarion this week, two of LHP's current partners spoke positively about their relationship with LHP.
"It doesn't happen overnight. It's like a good marriage: You have to work on it," Moen said.
Moen called concerns that LHP would sell CPH for a quick profit "unfounded."
Moen did not recall the situation with Douglas Community Medical Center, in Roseburg, Ore., which closed in 2000 under Triad's ownership. The Eugene Register-Guard newspaper reported in 2003 that the "hospital's closure devastated Roseburg."
Moen was Triad's executive vice president for development. Triad had 54 partnerships when Community Health Systems bought the $6 billion company in 2007.
Douglas closed because it could not compete with a second health care facility in town, the Register-Guard reported.
"We can't sell the hospital without partner approval. All decisions are made by the joint venture board," Moen said this week. "We're in this for the long run."
Moen also said LHP prides itself on working closely with doctors, holding monthly roundtable discussions to hear their concerns and comments.
"If we do anything well, we think it's how we work with the doctors," Moen said. "We get them involved with the governance structure and in the decision making."
Local physicians have previously expressed skepticism over any collaboration with an outside partner.
LHP's financial backing comes from CCMP Capital Advisors, LLC, the private equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase, and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.
If the hospital were sold, the deal would include Serenity House Treatment Center, Heritage Place, and all physician clinics run by Central Peninsula General Hospital Inc., the nonprofit that currently governs the hospital. LHP would purchase the majority of the hospital and the remainder would be sold to a nonprofit governing board that would have 100 percent local representation in one bloc.
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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