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Steward concerns trickle South

Questions about Steward Health Care's stability have spread from Massachusetts to a 278-bed hospital in Louisiana. 

Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe, La., is one of 33 hospitals owned by Dallas-based Steward, which has recently made headlines amid concerns about its financial position. The health system owes $50 million in rent to its landlord, Medical Properties Trust, plus $4 million to other contractors among its nine Massachusetts hospitals alone. 

In the Bay State, possibilities range from hospital bankruptcies to the declaration of a public health emergency. In West Monroe, lawmakers aren't waiting around to see the possibilities, according to a Feb. 13 news release the city shared with Becker's

Hospital Service District #1 Commissioners recently unanimously voted to hire a consultant "to represent [the district's] interest and the interest of the community regarding concerns over the future of Glenwood Regional Medical Center," the news release said. 

The consultant — William F. Barrow, president of Barrow Management, and a board member and past chair of the Louisiana Hospital Association — will represent the hospital service district in the search for a potential private equity firm to purchase Glenwood Regional and continue its operations. 

Mike Mulhearn, chair of the hospital service district, told Becker's that the city has been in talks with Steward and believes the system would be open to selling the hospital. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has also been monitoring the situation, according to the news release. 

A Steward representative declined to immediately comment on Feb. 13. 

A parish police jury ordinance first created the hospital service district in 1951 in an effort to establish a hospital in West Monroe. Eleven years later, Glenwood Regional — then known as Glenwood Hospital — opened its doors. The hospital was sold to Iasis Healthcare in 2007, and Iasis was acquired by Steward in 2017. 

Hospital physicians and staff, and community members, have raised concerns about Steward's stability to both the city and the hospital service district, the news release claims. Mr. Mulhearn declined to specify the nature of those concerns or who, precisely, raised them. However, he told Becker's the matter is particularly concerning as all surrounding parishes come to Glenwood Regional for care — not just residents of West Monroe. 

"In conjunction with the city, we're concerned about the hospital," Mr. Mulhearn said. "There's a lot of information going around about Steward and their hospitals all across the country, so we just made a proactive choice, and hopefully we can find a group that can come in and take care of the needs in West Monroe."

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