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Jewish enters local hospital picture

Jewish Hospital of Louisville has offered to join forces with Harrison County Hospital in Corydon to provide financial backing for a new facility in return for 20 to 49 percent interest in the now county-owned hospital.
Ronald Greenberg, senior vice president of Jewish Hospital, said the HCH board of directors would be free to decide the extent of Jewish Hospital’s investment, which would be a minority interest, not a controlling interest.
The offer is a proposal only, and by no means has a deal been struck.
“We’ve never gotten any solidified offer stating how things would be controlled or divided,” said HCH board president Parvin Baumgart last week, adding that the board has had a “cordial” preliminary meeting with Jewish officials. County officials would have to participate in any decision allowing an investment by another entity.
HCH Executive Director Steve Taylor said any such proposal would require strict evaluation. “The devil is always in the details,” he said, adding that if an interest in the county-owned hospital is going to be sold, then the best deal possible should be sought.
Even though Jewish would have a “minority” interest, Taylor said that could mean swaying just one vote to reach an objective, which might not be in the best interest of the community.
“You never want to play poker with somebody who has a lot more money than you,” Taylor said. “They can wait you out.”
Greenberg said a written offer from Jewish would be sent this week to the county commissioners, council members and HCH directors.
Included in the proposal, Greenberg said, would be Jewish Hospital’s guarantee that not a single HCH employee would be laid off as a result of the new arrangement. “Everybody’s position, including ambulance personnel, would be protected,” he said.
Although Jewish Hospital would receive a fee for management services, Greenberg said those dollars would be reinvested in medical ventures within the community.
“We would look for a new venture and use the management fee for that,” Greenberg said. “The money would be spent here in the county.”
Jewish Hospital is prepared to invest $15 million in a new hospital, and Jewish’ share of the profits would be used to pay off the investment debt, Greenberg said. “That is our debt, not a debt of the county’s,” he said.
He said Jewish, a non-profit hospital like HCH, is financially sound. The hospital made $15 million last year and $6 million in the first quarter of 2002. Greenberg said the hospital’s profit target for the year is $18 million.
HCH executives have said the proposed facility here would cost about $30 million, and they are seeking a financial commitment from the county of $1.5 million in annual payments for the first 10 years of a bond issue to finance the construction and $1 million a year for the last 10 years.
That’s a decision the commissioners and council must make. HCH favors making the payments from Caesars riverboat revenue. Financing would still require a property tax debt service to insure payments in the event riverboat revenue weren’t available.
Jewish Hospital is affiliated with numerous outreach facilities and hospitals owned by several other counties in Indiana. Those include: Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville; Scott Memorial Hospital in Scottsburg; Southern Indiana Rehab Hospital in New Albany and Washington County Memorial Hospital in Salem. Jewish is also in Brandenburg, where the Jewish Hospital Health Center is located.