WILLIAMSON - At approximately noon on Friday, a request was filed by the law firm representing Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) to withdraw the Certificate of Need (CON) that had been filed with the West Virginia Healthcare Authority regarding their wish to acquire Williamson Memorial Hospital WMH).
This move. however, does not take the possible buy off the table, according to ARH Community CEO Tim Hatfield of the S. Williamson ARH facility, but will instead, allow them to look at all possible service lines and explore all options of possible businesses that could utilize the WMH building.
The letter filed on Friday is very brief, and reads as follows in it’s entirety:
“We (the lawfirm of Jackson Kelly) represent the applicants in the above referenced Certificate of Need (File. No. 13-2-10029-A) application. Please accept this letter as a formal request to withdraw this application at this time to allow further development of a possible alternative use for the Williamson Memorial Hospital facility and allow for modifications to the asset purchase agreement.”
“This withdrawal in no way implies that we longer have interest in purchasing WMH,” explained Hatfield. “Instead, it ensures us additional time to look at and speak with all companies that may be interested in doing business out of the building that currently functions as a hospital, as we look at plans to refurbish and remodel the structure. In layman’s terms, we need to have a definite plan of action so we are sure of what we need to do and the correct plan of action we’re going to take.”
The CON was filed a few months ago after the ARH system announced plans to purchase the WMH facility for an estimated cost of $13 to $15 million dollars from the Health Management Authority (HMA) based in Naples, Florida, who is currently in the process of selling the 71 hospitals they own that are spread across the United States and includes WMH. The company making the purchase is Community Health Services (CHS). According to financial reports that were filed by HMA, WMH suffered a $4.2 million dollar loss of profit in 2012 and has not been in the black for several years.
Questions have been raised and rumors have begun to surface that ARH was backing out of the deal and that WMH would not be sold. Additional statements were also made that CHS had in fact filed for a CON for the Williamson hospital. When asked if he was aware of this information. Hatfield explained that because the CHS organization was purchasing all 71 healthcare facilities from HMA as a group and not individually, they were required to file CON’s for each and every one, regardless of what they planned to do with them in the future.
Attempts were made by the Williamson Daily News to reach the CEO of Williamson Memorial as well as Dr. Donovan Beckett, who sits on the board of the hospital and has been their number one advocate to keep the doors open, but neither of them were available to give a statement. Once those interviews are conducted, a future article on this subject will appear in print.