Financially ailing Central Iowa Healthcare could go up for sale

Marshalltown, Iowa-based Central Iowa Healthcare, which has been losing millions of dollars in recent years, could be for sale soon, according to The Des Moines Register.

The independent hospital clinic, formerly called Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center, includes a 125-bed hospital in Marshalltown and primary care clinics in Marshalltown, Conrad, State Center and Toledo.

Hospital leaders said Thursday they have enlisted consulting firm Juniper Advisory to help "explore various partnership options," which could include a sale or affiliation with a larger system, such as Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint or Des Moines-based Mercy, according to the report.

Central Iowa Healthcare lost $3.8 million in 2013 and $1.8 million in 2014, the latest years for which data is available, according to public reports filed with the Iowa Hospital Association. John Hughes, president and CEO of the hospital, said the 2015 financial report has not yet been audited but it will also show a loss, according to the report. 

The Marshalltown hospital's size makes it particularly vulnerable to financial pains, as it is too big to qualify for the Critical Access Hospital program, which provides extra Medicare payments to small hospitals. At the same time, Central Iowa Healthcare is too small to compete with urban medical centers.

Carol Hibbs, board of trustees chairwoman, also noted Central Iowa Healthcare has struggled to keep up with government requirements, such as the shift to an EHR to comply with meaningful use.

"We're being mandated to do more with less," she said, according to the report. Issues with EHRs have also derailed the hospital's billing process, which has delayed payments.

In the event the hospital is sold, it would continue "business as usual," and none of the company's clinics or programs would close, according to the report.

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