HCA Midwest seeks to buy St. Joseph, St. Mary's medical centers - KCTV5 News

HCA Midwest seeks to buy St. Joseph, St. Mary's medical centers

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Ascension Health said Tuesday that they have entered into negotiations with HCA Midwest Health System to sell St. Joseph and St. Mary's medical centers and other Carondelet Health subsidiaries in Kansas City.

The three Carondelet Health long-term care facilities, which include Carondelet Manor, Villa St. Joseph and St. Mary's Manor, are currently operated by Carondelet Health and Benedictine Health System. The two hospital foundations would remain operated by Ascension Health, the company said Tuesday in a statement.

Residents and leaders in Blue Springs in particular are concerned that the deal could result in the closing of St. Mary's.

"The decision to enter into these negotiations was made following a period of review and discernment by both the Carondelet Health Board and Ascension Health. This action supports our focus on providing a vital presence in the communities we serve, meaning we serve where we are needed and how we are needed to be there," said Robert J. Henkel, Ascension Health's president and chief executive officer, in a written statement.  "Ascension Health will continue to serve the community by helping to meet the growing need for senior services."

Fleury Yelvington, president and chief executive officer of Carondelet Health, said being a part of a system with a large local presence would strengthen Carondelet's position in the  competitive market.

"(It) is critical to ensure the system's long-term success amidst the myriad of changes that are occurring as part of healthcare reform," Yelvington said.

If the negotiations lead to a sale, HCA Midwest has expressed a commitment to working with the local diocese to preserve the hospitals' Catholic heritage.

Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross has concerns about the proposed sale.

"It's the second largest employer in the city," Ross said. "So it's critical from an employee standpoint and also from a service standpoint."

HCA owns Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, which is spurring some fears that HCA will consider St. Mary's redundant.

"There is some concern if HCA was the one to purchase St. Mary's what does that mean because Centerpoint is so close to St. Mary's," Ross said. "How do they compliment each other and would it no longer be a competitive thing?"

A campaign has been launched in Blue Springs called Faces for St. Mary's with the goal for residents to have a say in the deal.

St. Mary's employs about 650, according to one estimate. Ross said the hospital employs about 500.

"Faces for St. Mary's cannot fathom Blue Springs without a hospital," according to the news release. "Whoever purchases St. Mary's needs to know that we are a large and vocal community that is dedicated to our community hospital. The buyers need to know that there are tens of thousands of people that (sic) do not want to lose their beloved community hospital in Blue Springs."

Officials with the deal are declining to discuss possible layoffs or hospital closings, saying the deal is still in the works and the timing is too sensitive to make public remarks.

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