Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System had been in talks to buy the Singing River Health System, but both sides have ended the negotiations.
After months of negotiations, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System won’t be purchasing the Singing River Health System after all.
Both systems said this week that there would be no deal.
Singing River is a publicly-owned system that operates three hospitals on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. The Jackson County Board of Supervisors announced in March that it had selected the Franciscan Missionaries system as the new owners of Singing River, and talks had been taking place for months.
But officials with the organizations all said they couldn’t reach a consensus.
Ken Taylor, president of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, told WLOX in Mississippi that he was concerned with the “timing right now in the healthcare industry.”
“We could not see a positive outcome for the hospital, for the county, so that’s basically the reason we terminated,” Taylor told WLOX.
In a statement, Richard R. Vath, president and CEO of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, said that Jackson County officials and Singing River had been “very engaging and clearly committed to delivering quality healthcare to the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
Vath added that he was “quite impressed” with Singing River.
“At this unprecedented time of uncertainty in healthcare, we regret that both parties could not reach consensus,” Vath said in the statement. "We wish the very best for Jackson County and SRHS in the future.”
The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, a nonprofit Catholic organization, operates 10 hospitals in Louisiana and Mississippi. Based in Baton Rouge, La., the system employs more than 18,000 people.
Laurin St. Pe, interim CEO of Singing River Health System, said in a statement that the organization will work with the county to determine the best steps forward.
“Our primary focus at Singing River is, and always will be, the well-being of our patients and the communities we serve. We will continue to work closely with the BOS to help us achieve our long-term goals and ensure our patients have the high-quality care they expect from Singing River,” St. Pe said in a statement.
Months ago, officials said the best step for Singing River would be a sale to Franciscan Missionaries. When the county initially selected Franciscan Missionaries as a buyer of Singing River in March 2023, Taylor said in a statement that the system was “the right choice.”
“Fundamentally, they share our community values and have a mission to provide equal access to healthcare for all,” Taylor said in the statement.
Tiffany Murdock, the previous CEO of Singing River, told a community group in August 2022 that the system was seeking a buyer, and that a sale would be better sooner than later, Mississippi Today reported.
“We’re coming at it now at a place of strength,” Murdock said in the 2022 forum. “And in five years, I can’t promise you the same thing.”
In the summer, Singing River suffered a cyberattack that required the system to take its computers offline and clinicians to work with paper.
The county supervisors and Singing River’s leadership will come together to decide the next steps for the hospital, Taylor told WLOX.
More hospitals have been announcing mergers and acquisitions in 2023, and analysts expect to see more deals in the coming months.