Mercy Health, Capella Healthcare to Merge Arkansas Hospitals Despite Objections

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The agreement between Mercy Health in Chesterfield, Mo., and Franklin, Tenn.-based Capella Healthcare to merge Mercy Hospital Hot Springs (Ark.) and National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs is moving forward despite initial reservation from local Catholic clergy, according to an Arkansas Catholic report.

Mercy Health, Catholic sponsor of Mercy Hospital Hot Springs, and Capella Healthcare, the non-Catholic parent company of National Park Medical, signed an agreement in principle for the deal in April. Soon after the agreement was signed, Bishop Anthony Taylor and the Diocese of Little Rock expressed reservations in regard to care for the poor, according to the report.

According to Mercy president and CEO Lynn Britton, both organizations are just beginning to define the terms under which Mercy might transfer ownership of Hot Springs to Capella, but Mercy is asking that Capella continue to care for poor patients, according to report.

Under the proposed deal, Capella has agreed to other provisions set by Mercy, such as refraining from abortion or sterilization procedures at the Hot Springs hospital for at least five years; committing to adopt Mercy's charity care policy guidelines; maintaining a pastoral care program; complying with ethical and religious directives set by Mercy; and partnering with Mercy to provide an adult Medicaid clinic, a pregnancy care center, a charitable Christian medical clinic and urgent care/convenient care services, according to the report.

The next step in the merger is state and federal regulatory approvals. However, since Mercy is a Catholic health system, it must also receive approval from the Vatican to transfer ownership of Mercy Hot Springs to Capella. According to the report, Mercy representatives will travel to the Vatican this fall.

More Articles on Hospital Acquisitions:

BayCare Health System, Winter Haven Hospital Discuss Partnership
Steward Health Care to Acquire Mercy Health System of Maine
Hartford HealthCare, Backus Healthcare Formalize Partnership Plans

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