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Planned New Hampshire hospital sale moves forward

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Catholic Medical Center has signed a purchase agreement with HCA Healthcare. The New Hampshire hospital has been struggling financially.

Months after Catholic Medical Center began exploring a partnership with HCA Healthcare, the New Hampshire hospital says it has reached a purchase agreement with the company.

Image: Catholic Medical Center

Catholic Medical Center, based in Manchester, N.H., has reached a purchase agreement with HCA Healthcare, the nation's largest for-profit system. The New Hampshire hospital has struggled financially and is looking to join HCA, but would remain a Catholic institution.

Catholic Medical Center says it has signed an asset purchase agreement with a subsidiary of HCA Healthcare, the largest for-profit hospital system in America. The organizations announced last fall that they were exploring a partnership.

HCA Healthcare is planning to buy the hospital for $110 million, the New Hampshire Union-Leader reports.

New Hampshire’s Attorney General’s office must still review the planned transaction so the regulatory review is just getting underway.

Based in Manchester, N.H., Catholic Medical Center has been struggling financially. The hospital has suffered operating losses in each of the past four years, the Union-Leader reports. The hospital laid off 54 employees and also eliminated some open positions in April, New Hampshire Public Radio reported.

Alex Walker, president and CEO of Catholic Medical Center, pointed out that the hospital would retain its Catholic identity if it joins HCA Healthcare.

“This agreement is the result of months of due diligence, thoughtful negotiations between our organizations and discussion with the local community about how we can best serve them,” Walker said in a statement. “In addition to embracing our Catholic mission, HCA is committed to healthcare excellence, community service and investing in our people and facilities.”

Catholic Medical Center is licensed for 330 beds and employs more than 3,000 workers.

In papers filed with the New Hampshire Charitable Trusts Unit, Catholic Medical Center said it "faces monthly losses ranging from $2 - $3 million." The hospital points to the challenges of caring for one of the oldest populations in the country and dealing with a serious opioid and substance use disorder crisis.

"As a result, the Hospital no longer has access to the capital necessary to invest in its facilities, technologies, and labor force," Catholic Medical Center said in the documents filed with the state.

Walker told New Hampshire Public Radio last fall that joining HCA is essential to assure the hospital’s viability. “The strategy of remaining a standalone, independent Catholic hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, long term, is probably not a winning strategy,” he told New Hampshire Public Radio.

The medical center had been part of GraniteOne Health, a non-profit regional health system, but the boards of the hospitals that formed GraniteOne said in May 2023 that they have agreed to dissolve the system.

GraniteOne explored a partnership with Dartmouth Health, but the systems abandoned the plans in 2022 after New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella objected to the merger. Formella said the deal would reduce competition and hurt consumers. In 2010, Dartmouth sought to acquire Catholic Medical Center, and the New Hampshire attorney general’s office opposed that deal as well.

HCA runs three hospitals in New Hampshire: Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Parkland Medical Center, and Frisbie Memorial Hospital. Walker pointed to HCA’s experience in New Hampshire as a hopeful sign for the Catholic Medical Center.

“With three hospitals and four decades of providing healthcare services to the state, we are confident HCA will continue CMC’s mission of offering health, healing and hope to the Manchester community for decades to come,” Walker said in a statement.

Based in Nashville, HCA operates 188 hospitals and 2,400 ambulatory sites in 20 states and the United Kingdom.

While regulators review the transaction, Catholic Medical Center says it will work with HCA to finalize the deal and prepare to join the system.

Bishop Peter A. Libasci of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester hailed the agreement with HCA and highlighted the medical center’s plans to continue as a Catholic hospital.

“This is an important moment in the history of Catholic Medical Center’s continued commitment to its ministry and delivery of the highest quality medical attention and authentically Catholic healthcare,” he said in a statement to the media.

Timothy Riley, chair of CMC’s board of trustees, pointed out last fall that HCA has successfully partnered with HCA Florida Mercy Hospital, a Catholic hospital in Florida.


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