Akron General Health System is back on the market for a new owner after recently ending exclusive talks with the Cleveland Clinic and a national for-profit hospital chain.
Since August, Akron General had been negotiating to sell the health system’s assets to a new joint venture to be formed between the Cleveland Clinic and Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS).
But Akron General has opted to look at other partnership opportunities because the Cleveland Clinic and CHS haven’t been able to reach an agreement, Akron General President and Chief Executive Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover said on Friday.
Akron General leaders had hoped to have a deal finalized by the end of 2013.
“Frankly, we just didn’t see anything coming our way,” he said. “ … This has taken much longer than we, the board, or the community has much patience for.”
The Cleveland Clinic referred questions to Community Health Systems, indicating CHS was the primary party in the relationship with Akron General.
“CHS and Cleveland Clinic have not reached terms under which a joint venture would be structured, and subsequently, Akron General has notified us that it is ending exclusive negotiations with CHS and Cleveland Clinic,” CHS spokeswoman Tomi Galin said in an email. “We have appreciated this opportunity to explore a possible relationship with Akron General and understand their decision to end exclusive negotiations at this time.”
Variety of options
Moving forward, Akron General isn’t limiting its options and will consider a variety of deals with potential partners locally and nationwide, Stover said.
“All the options are on the table,” he said. “We have more than one system that’s very interested in Akron General.”
Akron General Health System includes Akron General Medical Center, physician practices, Visiting Nurse Service and Affiliates, Hospice of VNS, Lodi Community Hospital, Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Institute, three health and wellness centers and other outpatient locations.
The health system is among the region’s largest employers, with more than 5,000 workers.
Akron General is again working with a national consulting firm to help evaluate new proposals, Stover said.
Stover said he’s hopeful a new deal can be announced within 45 to 60 days.
Door is open
Though Akron General hasn’t had any recent discussions with the Cleveland Clinic or CHS about other possible arrangements moving forward, “the door is open,” Stover said.
“You can’t negate the fact that the Clinic is in our backyard,” he said. “I have an incredible amount of respect for them, personally as well as professionally. I’m not going to close the door on anything.”
Akron General previously had negotiations with the Cleveland Clinic in 2007 about an affiliation, but those plans didn’t move forward.
Like many hospitals throughout Ohio and nationwide, Akron General has been seeking a larger partner to boost its financial health while contending with massive changes in the industry both locally and nationally.
Akron General’s cross-town rival, Summa Health System, recently finalized its own $250 million deal with HealthSpan Partners, an auxiliary of Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners, for a minority ownership stake in the Akron-area health system.
Robinson Memorial Hospital also is in talks with several unidentified health systems for a potential partnership deal, which could be announced as early as this month. The Ravenna hospital recently converted from county-owned to not-for-profit status, opening the door for more partnership possibilities.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.