The Kansas City Star is reporting that Prime Healthcare has completed its purchase of hospitals in Kansas City and Leavenworth Kansas. Buying at both ends of the hospital-size continuum, Prime has closed the deals to purchase the 400-bed Providence Medical Center and the 80-bed St. John's Hospital. These appear to be the first Prime acquisitions in Kansas.
Prime is a for-profit entity that specializes in the purchase of financially-distressed properties to add to its California-based 23 acute care hospital chain. These acquisitions were no exception to the Prime business model. It is reported that the $54.3 million sale price came nowhere near the $121 million in debt the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System was carrying on the facilities.
Prime has quite a high profile in California. You could read about their legal battles with Kaiser Permanente Health Plan over billing and transfer practices here: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20120918/NEWS/309189959. And you could read about Prime's kwashiorkor cases here:http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Hospital-eases-billing-for-rare-malady-4141154.php. Or, you could read about Prime's patient data breach issue here: http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2013/1/18/prime-sued-over-alleged-patient-confidentiality-breach.aspx.
The closing of a hospital can best be understood as the death of a civilization. Many communities, particularly rural communities, build much of their civic life around hospitals. The pressure to find a buyer -- any buyer -- can be intense when a hospital is on the apparent brink of closure.