Hospital owners exploring options

Published 8:34 pm Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hospital owners are seeking other ways to secure bank financing in case the city won’t agree to extend its support.

“We’re looking at ways the bank could approve loan requests even if the city doesn’t go along with it,” said Gil McKenzie, a hospital investor.

McKenzie said Troy Hospital Doctors LLC., is seeking financing from Superior Bank. But, what’s still uncertain is whether the loan would be granted without city support.

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“The approval could be based on the city’s decision,” McKenzie said.

The doctor’s group and McKenzie purchased the hospital last year from Attentus Healthcare. At the time, the city agreed to purchase the hospital property, if necessary, for $10.5 million, well below the appraised value of $18.5 million. Last week, the city was asked to increase that guaranteed purchase price to $15 million and Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford indicated he was not in favor of doing so.

Lunsford said the council will not discuss the issue until its March 24 meeting.

In the meantime, McKenzie said doctors are seeking other ways to finance a loan, and he is confident they will find one.

“If for some reason Superior doesn’t approve the loan, we’ll get the loan from somewhere,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said investors have been looking for ways to meet the approval of Superior Bank without city support and exploring other lenders who may also require that option.

“Either way, we’ll be borrowing the money,” McKenzie said. “It just depends on how we borrow it.”

While exactly how or if the doctors continue ownership remains to be seen, one thing is for certain — each is ready to continue progress their ownership has made in the last year.

With a newly-elected Board of Directors, Chairman Chuck Wood said the new management is ready to continue moving Troy Regional Medical Center in the right direction.

“The one thing to realize is when the doctors bought the hospital from Attentus, (we were) trying to save the hospital,” Wood said. “And even over the last year, there’s been a lot of positives.”

Increased staffing, upgraded computer systems and infrastructure improvements are just some of what Wood said owners have put into the hospital since they took ownership.

With several new board members, Wood said what the group will do is not only continue these types of improvements but also bring fresh ideas to the table.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” Wood said. “…We’re going to be in great shape by the end of 2009.”

And while it’s not in the plans yet, Lunsford said should the city have to take ownership under the current agreement, which lasts until March 31, he isn’t sure how that would play out.