Missoula hospital agrees to sale

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MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The Community Medical Center in Missoula is being bought out by Billings Clinic and a Tennessee-based hospital group.

Steve Carlson, CEO of Community Medical Center, confirmed the transaction on Friday, saying multiyear commitments are in place to maintain charity care, current services and the physician residency program at the hospital.

“Ultimately, we think the consumer will be very excited about what they see from Community Medical Center moving forward,” Carlson said.

The deal has to be approved by the Montana State Attorney General’s office, and hospital officials said that’s expected to happen in late summer or in the fall.

The Missoula hospital had been in partnership talks with several larger medical groups since last year.

The Community Medical Center board voted to partner with the Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners of Brentwood, Tenn., Carlson said.

There aren’t any plans to cut jobs or programs, hospital officials said. Rather the hope is to create jobs and offer new services, they said.

Billings Clinic is the largest health-care organization in the state and serves much of Montana, northern Wyoming and the western Dakotas in conjunction with its other hospital partners and clinics.

The partnership allows Community to become even more of a regional health care provider and strengthens the hospital’s position as a local competitor to Missoula’s other hospital, Providence Western Montana’s St. Patrick Hospital, Carlson said.

“I think it will make both institutions better,” he said.

Providence Western Montana chief executive Jeff Fee expressed disappointment over the announcement in a news release, saying lowering costs and increasing quality would be best for the community.

St. Patrick’s focus will remain on a commitment to the poor and vulnerable and continue its 140-year legacy of meeting the community’s health care needs, Fee said. “We will make the necessary investments in patient care to provide a comprehensive range of services to the residents of western Montana,” he said.

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Information from: KECI-TV, http://www.keci.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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