Providence has FMH rehab in strategic plan

WINNSBORO – As Providence Health prepares to open a new emergency room in Winnsboro, its parent company is being sold.

Tennessee-based LifePoint Health is being acquired by Apollo Global Management, a large venture capital firm, said Stephen Selzer, interim market chief executive officer of LifePoint.

Selzer made the announcement during the Fairfield Memorial Hospital’s monthly board of trustees meeting July 24. Apollo disclosed news of the sale in a July 23 news release.

“They [Apollo] are coming in basically to buy all of the stock of LifePoint and acquiring the company,” Selzer said.

With the move, LifePoint will essentially switch from a publicly held company to a private corporation.

According to the Apollo news release, LifePoint is merging with RCCH HealthCare Partners, which is owned by Apollo. Selzer said LifePoint would retain its name.

As of March 31, Apollo listed nearly $3.2 billion in total investments, according to a quarterly report filed May 8 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We are excited that LifePoint and RCCH are combining to create a national leader in community-based healthcare, and are looking forward to the next chapter of the combined company’s growth,” Matthew Nord, a senior partner at Apollo, said in a news release.

Closer to home, hospital executives said the merger means only good things for Fairfield County health care.

“The company will not have to make decisions on a quarter to quarter basis,” Selzer said. “That’s a trap sometimes that you can only make decisions that make you look best in terms of your next quarterly earnings report. It’s a little bit difficult to think bigger long-term.”

Selzer added that Apollo has tremendous assets which he said would lead to greater investment in health care, though he didn’t say specifically how that would translate in Fairfield County.

“Once it [the sale] does close, we’ll be able to look at capitalizing on opportunities of having fair market here,” he said. “What I think is going to come out of this is something that’s much better for everybody.”

The one-level, 18,000-square-foot building, located off U.S. 321 bypass near across from Bi-Lo, will dedicate 12,000 square feet to emergency services and include 6,000 additional square feet of space for future expansion.

Lindy White, chief executive officer for Providence Northeast in Columbia, said the 6,000-square-foot expansion is part of Providence’s strategic plan for 2019.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital board members were pleased with the report.

“It is so apparent that you guys as of late are a hospital on the move and are trying to be on the forefront in the latest and greatest in the health care field,” said trustee Randy Bright.

“I’m encouraged to know that you are working on a strategic plan,” added trustee James McGraw. “You guys are working to get the word out. The test is going to be inform the people in the rural areas. It’s going to be a great benefit having you in this county.”

White said the facility’s clinical director position has been posted for a few weeks. She said Providence hopes to fill it in September.

“We’re charting down that path with hopes of having that person, the right person, who’s going to promote patient quality and experience,” White said. “We will begin interviewing once we find right candidate.

Other positions should be posted soon, if not already, White said, adding that job fairs will be held in late August.

Providence also recently toured the Fairfield rehab center, which is the subject of a pending real estate transaction between Fairfield County and Fairfield Memorial Hospital.

FMH has accepted Fairfield County’s offer of $1.3 million to buy three parcels, with an option to acquire the rehab center for an additional $285,000.

The county said it wants to see the rehab center remain where it is, but hopes a private buyer will operate it.

White said she was impressed with the energy at the rehab center, but also said Providence is still evaluating the feasibility of potentially running it.

“Hopefully with the size of our staff and the staff we have, we can operate the facility too at a little lower cost based on that scale,” White said. “We’re trying to incorporate those things and do that due diligence.

“The facility shows well and the team is very engaged,” White continued. “I was excited by the engagement. The team takes ownership, which is evident in the patient comments you see.”

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