SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A public hearing took place Friday on the proposed sale of Memorial Health, a facility which serves not only the Savannah area but many surrounding counties. Memorial operates the second largest trauma unit in the state of Georgia.
The non-profit hospital has been struggling in recent years and lost a reported $40 million last year. The sale was sought by the board of directors at Memorial as well as board members from the Chatham County Hospital Authority which owns the land and other assets. The issue for local leaders was continuing to provide key services such as in the trauma and neonatal units as well as indigent care.
The hearing was being conducted by the Georgia Attorney General’s office which by state law must conduct a review of any sale or lease of hospital to a “for” profit company. We are told the AG’s office wants to ensure that charitable assets of Memorial are protected and that a buyer pays a fair price.
HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) has offered to purchase Memorial for more than $434 million which is supposed to include a continuation of safety net services (trauma care, neonatal services, etc.) for at least a decade. It was disclosed at the hearing that Memorial officials would have considered a fair sale price between $320 to $400 million. (In addition to the purchase of the hospital, HCA has promised to clear a bond debt Memorial has with Chatham County and to infuse tens of millions for capital projects and new equipment.)
HCA also said in addition to the continuation of programs and expansion of services that it plans to retain most if not all staff. More than 20 people spoke at the public hearing, many of which were employees, and every witness indicated his or her support of the sale. Several doctors said “without the sale that Memorial will not be able to continue its critical service mission to the Savannah area and outlying counties.”
As part of its review, the Attorney General’s office has hired its own consultant to review the sale price and the assets of Memorial Health. The state is expected to issue its approval or disapproval regarding the sale within 30 days.