Bristol Hospital slated for sale

Bristol Hospital announced that a Letter of Intent has been signed to be purchased by Vanguard Health Systems, Inc. Seen here are Vanguard Health Systems, Inc’s vice president for development Rob Jay, left, chair of the Bristol Hospital Board of Directors Marie O’Brien, and president and CEO of Bristol Hospital Kurt Barwis.

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
Last Wednesday, Bristol Hospital and Health Care Croup, Inc, a non-profit, announced its agreement to be purchased by Vanguard Health Systems, Inc., a Tennessee based for-profit health care system, and a Fortune 500 company.
The agreement, Chair of the Bristol Hospital Board of Directors Marie O’Brien said at a press conference, “honors the long-standing heritage of Bristol Hospital and its mission to care for the patients and families in our communities.”
No financial information about the deal has been released yet, and Bristol Hospital and Vanguard will continue to work out a final agreement over the next 60 days.
Kurt Barwis, Bristol Hospital president and CEO, said the process began over a year ago, and the Board of Directors believe “the mission of Bristol Hospital is safe with this transaction.”
He said this agreement “puts us a part of a much larger system in New England,” and the tradition of Bristol Hospital will still be maintained.
“What you see and feel will be here for generations to come,” Barwis said, adding that the hospital will still be Bristol Hospital, which has been a non-profit facility for 91 years.
Rob Jay, Vanguard’s vice president of development, said the path that Bristol Hospital is on, and has been on, is compatible with Vanguard Health Systems. He said this agreement will provide Bristol Hospital with the leverage to continue “best practices, supportive practices,” and continue to improve.
O’Brien said that by becoming part of “a high-performance integrated care network,” the hospital will be able to continue to attract top physicians, nurses and other medical staff. The hospital is also planning renovations to its main campus, and also to expand its range of outpatient services.
Barwis said when he and other hospital officials had visited other Vanguard hospitals, he said he felt the same way he does when he walks through Bristol Hospital. He said the initial response from hospital employees has been positive, and added that one of the expectations of this agreement is to “achieve success under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” which he said Vanguard has experience in.
Vanguard Health Systems owns and operations 28 acute-care and specialty hospitals around the country. According to a press release, Vanguard had about 41,000 employees and generated $5.95 billion for its fiscal year as of June 30, 2012. Vanguard also recently finalized an agreement to purchase Waterbury Hospital.
“In a real way, we are essentially taking a tremendous step forward in the way we operate,” Barwis said, adding that Vanguard was the hospital’s first and top choice.
Michael Nicastro, president and CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce said he applauded the board’s decision to move forward with Vanguard, and added that “doing nothing would be fatal.”
Dr. Kenneth Rhee, president of the Bristol Hospital Medical Staff, said physicians and other medical staff “were quite excited” about the transaction. “This will be very good for Bristol Hospital,” and allow it to expand on clinical programs and continue to hire qualified physicians,” he said.
Barwis said more information on the deal, like financial terms, will be released at a later date.