|Corrigan Times - Local News
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CHI is 'good fi t' for Livingston hospital
LIVINGSTON – A multi-million dollar expansion of the local hospital's emergency room is expected soon after Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) completes the acquisition of the Lufkin-based Memorial Medical Center. The outgoing chairman of the Memorial Medical Center- Livingston advisory board, Corky Evans, told members of the Livingston Rotary Club Thursday that CHI would be a "good fi t" for Livingston and East Texas. Evans also served on the hospital system's planning committee that sought out and negotiated the acquisition by CHI. Currently, the Memorial system includes the hospitals in Livingston, Lufkin and San Augustine. "This will provide a number of benefi ts to all three hospitals, including the access to capital that will allow our hospital to continue to grow," he said. Evans told the Rotarians that while the Livingston hospital and the Memorial system as a whole are on a strong fi nancial footing now, changes in national health care policies are going to make things more diffi cult in the future. He noted the Memorial system's planning committee began looking at the problem in 2011 and "picked up the pace" after 2012 when President Barack Obama was re-elected. Under the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, Evans said payments to hospitals and doctors are expected to shrink, making it more diffi cult for hospitals to fund things like new equipment, facility improvements and technology. Because of this, the planning group began looking for partners who could provide the needed capital base to help the hospital. He said they looked at local, regional and national partners and even invited 11 hospital groups to submit proposals. Of the six groups that actually submitted offers, CHI was the only "perfect fi t." Evans explained the planning committee was looking for a group that had similar vision, goals and objectives as the Memorial system. Also important was that they allowed local input on how facilities are managed, have capital resources and have access to quality medical care outside the local area. "One of the things that I felt was important was to have a tie to Houston and the Medical Center," Evans said. "We looked at groups based out of Dallas, Tyler and other places, but none of them brought to the table what CHI did." Evans noted that while CHI is based in Colorado, last summer the company acquired St. Luke's Hospital in Houston and has become affi liated with the Texas Heart Institute and the Baylor College of Medicine. "They've also told us they are looking at a number of other medical facilities in Southeast Texas," Evans said. He noted the company is ranked as the sixth largest medical group in the nation with 87 hospitals in 18 states. In terms of acquiring the Memorial system, Evans said CHI is doing its "due diligence" work on the transaction and expects to close the deal in either April or May. "One of the things they will be doing once they do acquire the system is invest $84 million in capital over the next six years," he said, adding that at the top of the list of projects will be an expanded emergency room at the Livingston hospital. When asked what name will be given to the local hospital once CHI takes over, Evans said that issue has not been decided. He noted it is possible "St. Luke's" might be used in some form.