Tenet drops bid to acquire Bristol Hospital

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
Despite Bristol Hospital’s efforts to become a for-profit organization, Tenet Healthcare Corp. announced last week it has abandoned plans to acquire five hospitals in the state, including the one on Brewster Road.
Last Thursday, the Dallas-based corporation said, due to state regulators issuing draft decisions that placed dozens of conditions on the deal, it would not acquire Bristol Hospital, as well as Waterbury and Saint Mary’s hospitals.
The state Office of Health Care Access placed 47 conditions on the proposed 80/20 for-profit joint venture between Tenet and Waterbury Hospital, and the attorney general’s office placed 21 conditions on the deal, according to a Republican American article. Both agencies planned to issue a final decision on the Waterbury Hospital deal this week, as well as a preliminary decision on Tenet’s acquisition of Saint Mary’s on Jan. 12.
“We respect the role the state regulators have in providing guidance and oversight to the health care industry, and understand the responsibility they take in discharging their duties,” Tenet said in a statement posted on its website. “Nonetheless, the extensive list of proposed conditions to be imposed on the Waterbury Hospital transaction, which is only the first of four transactions for which we’ve made applications, has led us to conclude that the approach to regulatory oversight in Connecticut would not enable Tenet to operate the hospitals successfully for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
As a result, Tenet said it informed OHCA and the attorney general’s office it is withdrawing its applications to acquire Waterbury and Saint Mary’s hospitals, as well as Bristol Hospital and Eastern Connecticut Health Network, or ECHN, which consists of Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals.
Recently, Bristol  Hospital received its application for a certificate of need from the state. The process began in July when Bristol Hospital, Tenet, and Yale New Haven Health Services Corporation filed a Certificate of Need  Determination request with the Office of Health Care Access, and the state’s attorney general. The CON required a state review of the proposed sale by OCHA and the attorney general.
Under the agreement, Tenet would have 80 percent ownership rights of Bristol Hospital, with the remaining 20 percent left to Yale. The estimated purchase price of Bristol Hospital was $50 million.
The agreement also included an investment of $45 million in capital improvements.
After the news of Tenet withdrawing its application to acquire the hospital, President and CEO Kurt Barwis sent a message to hospital employees.
In his statement, Barwis said Bristol Hospital appreciates Tenet’s dedication to the “mission of providing access to the finest health care services and their willingness to contribute to the well-being of our state and communities.” He added Bristol Hospital will continue a relationship with clinical partner Yale New Haven Health System to develop patient transfer protocols and joint clinical programs.
“As an independent, low-cost, high-quality community hospital, Bristol Hospital is strong and will be here for generations to come,” said Barwis in a statement. “Our continued growth—especially with programs in bariatrics, breast health, orthopedics and wound care— put us in the forefront of health care in Central Connecticut.”
Attorney General George Jepsen also commented on Tenet’s decision to withdraw its applications in Connecticut.
“It is unfortunate that Tenet has decided to withdraw its applications. Based on conversations my office has had subsequent to the release of our proposed final decision last week, I do not believe that the conditions proposed by my office – which focused on preserving and safeguarding the assets of the sale for healthcare purposes and not the day-to-day operation of the for-profit hospital going forward – were a contributing factor in Tenet’s decision,” said Jepsen in a statement on his website. “This decision raises substantial and immediate questions about the future of healthcare delivery in some of our communities. Those questions deserve the closest attention of policymakers at the local and state levels.”