RMC to buy Jacksonville Medical Center
by Paige Rentz
Healthcare reform has prompted the sale of Jacksonville Medical Center to Regional Medical Center of Anniston, according to executives involved in the deal.

Regional Medical Center announced Thursday it is buying the 89-bed Jacksonville hospital from Tennessee-based Capella Healthcare, which owns or operates 15 hospitals in seven states. Hospital officials expect to complete the transaction by the beginning of the new year.

Dan Slipkovich, chief executive of Capella Healthcare, said in a press release Thursday that under healthcare reform, “close collaboration and increased scale will be rewarded as every hospital is trying to do more with less.”

David McCormack, RMC’s chief executive, said the Affordable Care Act played a role in the transaction.

“I think it was looking at the future and all the changes that were coming about in healthcare – We knew things were going to change,” he said.

McCormack also said his organization started planning the acquisition about three years ago as RMC’s leadership looked to take the lead as the major regional medical center between Atlanta and Birmingham.

“Sitting here, we couldn’t continue to do things the way we were doing. We needed to expand out and ensure the people in all – we have five counties we serve – to ensure all of them are getting access to good, quality healthcare.”

With the purchase, two of the county’s three hospitals will be brought together under nonprofit ownership.

Driving back from signing the papers in Birmingham Thursday afternoon, McCormack said his institution signed a confidentiality agreement and would not disclose the purchase price of the Jacksonville Medical Center, now to be known as RMC Jacksonville.

McCormack said there will be no disruption to Jacksonville Medical Center’s services or the 180 staff members at the hospital.

“They’ll be our employees,” he said. “We’ll continue business as usual – If anything happens, it will be positive.”

Jacksonville Medical Center opened in 1976 as Jacksonville Hospital under city ownership. The City Council sold the hospital in 1996 for $15.3 million and used the money to help build a new Jacksonville High School.

Beth Wright, a spokesperson for Capella, said Jacksonville Medical Center has been a part of the Capella Healthcare family since February 2008.

RMC, a 338-bed facility, opened in Anniston in 1944. Members of its board of directors are appointed by local governments.

Board Chairman Greg Kernion said the purchase fit in nicely with RMC’s strategic plan to expand and become a truly regional facility, as it has done in Roanoke and Talladega in recent years. RMC serves five area counties, including Calhoun, Talladega, Randolph, Clay and Cleburne.

He said RMC officials have had a lot of conversations over the years about purchasing the Jacksonville facility. Those conversations escalated over the past six months when the hospital came available.

Last year, RMC expanded to Jacksonville with a clinic, which is set to provide services to Jacksonville State University students and employees in February, according to McCormack. Acquiring the hospital will enhance RMC’s ability to serve the JSU community, he said.

Expanding into other communities, Kernion said, ensures RMC will stay busy.

“It gives us additional beds,” he said. “It”s just a good fit for us.”

Beth Wright, spokesperson for Capella, said the staff at Jacksonville Medical Center makes the facility “truly an outstanding hospital.” She noted that the hospital has been named to Modern Healthcare’s “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” listing for the past two years – something she said is truly remarkable.

“It’s not just about being a great place to work,” she said. “It’s also about the outstanding care they provide the patients.”

Anniston City Councilman Seyram Selase was on hand for the announcement. He said the city’s new administration has been pushing the mission of “one city, one vision” and he understands the importance of becoming one region, one vision.

“Two organizations coming together to make something positive for Calhoun County as a whole,” he said, “it’s a beautiful thing.”

Kernion also noted that RMC, which employs about 1,400 people, is a non-profit institution.

“The money we make stays here,” he said.
© 2012