The facility’s governing authority approved a nonbinding letter of intent Thursday that could lead to the sale of BJC Medical Center and the construction of a new hospital in Commerce.
BJC has been searching for a white knight ever since the Jackson County and Banks County boards of commissioners signaled that they were not interested in underwriting up to $35 million in bonds to build a new hospital in Commerce.
Doctors Hospital of Georgia is the first serious response to that search. It is a new entity comprising EDT Development Company, an Atlanta-based company that specializes in medical facilities, and a number of doctors.
A lot has to take place before an acquisition can occur, officials stressed.
“I am guardedly optimistic,” declared authority chairman Charles Blair, who participated in Monday’s meeting of the BJC Medical Center Authority by speakerphone, “that the citizens of Jackson County will have an opportunity to have a first-class hospital in the future.”
The process will be lengthy.
The letter of intent gives Doctors Hospital 90 days to do its “due diligence” on the medical center and will be a time of negotiations over the details. The next step would be the signing by the authority of a final, binding agreement.
“There would be public hearings,” noted CEO Jim Yarborough, and the final step would be approval by the state attorney general, whose role would be to make sure the authority has done everything it could do to keep the facility operating and that it is getting fair market value.
Yarborough speculated that getting the attorney general’s approval will be the “biggest hurdle.”
He also said the boards of commissioners of the two counties do not have to sign off on the agreement, but said he has kept the chairmen of the two boards, along with Commerce Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. apprised of the process.
Should the deal take place, Yarbrough said the proceeds of the acquisition would be used to pay all accounts payable, liabilities and debts, including all outstanding bonds. Any money left over would go into a trust fund to provide indigent care for residents of the two counties.
Yarborough said Doctors Hospital hopes local physicians will be investor/owners of the new facility, which under the terms of the letter of intent would have to be built within three miles of the current facility.
The nonbinding agreement stipulates that the new owners would “maintain and invest in current facilities as well as apply for a CON (certificate of need) for a replacement facility in Jackson County, within three miles of the existing hospital” and that it would “recruit additional physicians in various specialties.”
Kevin Attarha, senior development executive for EDT, did not immediately return a call for comment.
A Taxpayer in Commerce
11/26/08 at 03:56 PM
Hah! The fairy tale narrarated by Jim Yarborough continues, with the Board and Mark Beardsley providing the chorus. This and the expected Medicare cash infusement is supposed to make the citizens feel better about losing a surgeon, a hospital, an OB Department and countless jobs? Any citizen with common sense, who is not more interested in fairy tales and rumors, knows that their has been no leadership or honesty from above at BJC, despite the hard work by the surgeons, physicians, and hospital staffs. Constant layoffs and a lack of appreciation for these people is never mentioned in the articles, just a regurgitation of whatever Yarborough tells Beardsley, and we're all supposed to swallow it. Where is the real leadership in Commerce? Is there no one who cares about the real story behind Yarborough's management of the hospital? Is everyone satisfied letting a surgeon be scapegoated for everything? Can't anyone read between the lines, that sometimes you have excellent staff and piss poor management? You gossip mongers and gullible readers are the real losers. You've lost quality people that worked in your best interest. And, now all you're left with is a dishonest CEO, a hapless, self-interested Board, and a newspaper that only serves as a mouthpiece for whatever the Old Guard in Commerce tells it. Wake Up!