Manchester Hospitals Filing Paperwork To Combine


United Regional Medical Center (“URMC”) and Medical Center of Manchester (“MCM”) are taking the first steps towards a potential combination of the two hospitals. URMC plans to file an application for a Certificate of Need (“CON”) with the Tennessee Health Services Development Agency next month. The application sets forth a plan for the two hospitals to combine and operate a single hospital on Interstate Drive. Most medical operations at URMC’s existing McArthur Drive location would be discontinued.
In its application, URMC seeks regulatory approval to relocate to MCM’s campus on Interstate Drive and to close one of the two emergency rooms. Under Tennessee law, a hospital cannot move or shut down an emergency room without state approval. URMC’s filing cites the need for the two hospitals located only two miles apart to combine operations to create a stronger health care facility that can afford to invest in state-of-the-art equipment and recruit more primary care physicians to the area. The application also provides details of a financial transaction in which the ownership groups of the two hospitals would be combined.
An investor group led by Dr. Wendell McAbee and Ashoke “Bappa” Mukherji purchased Coffee Medical Center from Coffee County twelve years ago and renamed it to United Regional Medical Center. “When we bought the hospital, it was always our plan to expand services and modernize the facility,” explained Dr. McAbee. He continued, “We were able to dramatically increase the services offered, but have been unable to do much with the physical plant itself. The planned combination is the best way to develop a first class healthcare facility for the citizens of Manchester.” J. Stanley Rogers, President of MCM, commented: “Putting these two hospitals together is long overdue. This is a wonderful way to unite our medical community and bring additional services to Manchester.” Rogers and his partners built MCM thirty years ago.
Mr. Mukherji, who would oversee the integration of the two facilities, stated: “The application is an exciting and important first step, but nothing is finalized yet. The management teams of both hospitals have worked together to develop a strong operating plan and we hope to get a quick approval and move forward.” Martha McCormick, Chief Executive Officer of URMC, added: “We view a consolidation as the best way to improve the quality of health care in Manchester. We hope that the community gets as excited as we are about what we are trying to do.” Bobby Couch, Chief Executive Officer of MCM, stated: “We want to bring everyone together to get behind this project, not just the medical community. As Manchester continues to grow, we want to make sure that we have a medical center that can grow along with it.”
After URMC files the application for the CON, the HSDA will schedule a public hearing to hear debate from interested parties and the public. At previous meetings, members of the HSDA have expressed a desire to see the two facilities combine, if possible. URMC has requested an expedited hearing, but in any event the hearing should be scheduled within sixty to ninety days. If the CON is approved, the companies would then have to file additional notices with various other governmental agencies including Medicare.