November 28, 2012

Waterbury Hospital suitor woos Bristol Hospital

Bristol Hospital CEO Kurt Barwis has led negotiations on the hospital's proposed merger with Vanguard Health Systems.

Nonprofit Bristol Hospital announced Wednesday its tentative sale to a Tennessee for-profit health care system that recently reached a deal to purchase nonprofit Waterbury Hospital.

Nashville's Vanguard Health Systems Inc., which owns and operates 28 acute-care and specialty hospitals across the country, has agreed to purchase Bristol Hospital for an undisclosed sum.

With the letter of intent in place, Vanguard and Bristol Hospital will work to finalize an agreement over the next 60 days.

The deal will also need approval from the state Office of Health Care Access and the Office of the Attorney General.

As part of the agreement, the hospital's board of directors will establish a 10-member board of trustees made up of four physicians, five community leaders and Kurt Barwis, the president and CEO of Bristol Hospital.

The Fortune 500 company, which generates about $6 billion in annual revenue, announced earlier this month that it also signed a letter of intent to acquire Waterbury Hospital. If both deals get done, it will make Vanguard a new, major player in Connecticut's health care industry, and convert two nonprofit hospitals into for profit entities.

Additionally, Bristol Hospital said it has signed a new network member agreement with Yale-New Haven Hospital, in which both organizations will jointly develop clinical programs and protocols used when patients are transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital for more specialized care.

Other network services such as purchasing also are part of that agreement.

"This honors the long-standing heritage of Bristol Hospital and its mission to care for the patients and families in our communities," said hospital board chair Marie O'Brien. "By becoming part of a high-performance integrated care network with new financial resources, clinical excellence and innovative opportunities presented under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the board is assured that our commitment to care will continue for generations to come."

O'Brien said the Vanguard deal will allow Bristol Hospital to do major renovations to its main campus and expand its range of outpatient services. It will also allow the hospital to attract and maintain high-quality physicians.

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