Carle seeks exemption from state permit to buy Hoopeston hospital

Carle seeks exemption from state permit to buy Hoopeston hospital

HOOPESTON — The Carle Foundation plans to pay $2.7 million to acquire Hoopeston's community hospital and clinics, according to an application on file with a state regulatory panel.

Carle has applied to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for an exemption that would allow the sale to proceed without a state permit called a "certificate of need."

Through the certificate-of-need program, the planning board holds a public hearing and has approval authority over health care business transactions and building projects. But exemptions are allowed under certain circumstances.

Mike Billimack, Carle's vice president of marketing, planning and government relations, said Carle is seeking an exemption because the Hoopeston hospital is already in existence and its need is already established.

A change of ownership for an existing facility that meets certain criteria also qualifies for an exemption under board administrative rules, he said.

Urbana-based Carle would purchase Hoopeston's 24-bed Community Memorial Hospital, the Charlotte Ann Russell Medical Center in Hoopeston and two smaller clinics in Cissna Park and Rossville on Oct. 1.

Hoopeston's community nursing home and independent-living facility aren't included in the purchase but are being spun off and expanded into a retirement village with proceeds from the sale.

Hoopeston Regional Health Center would transfer its cash reserves at the time of the closing to a newly formed Hoopeston Retirement Village Foundation, and Carle's $2.7 million payment would go to that foundation, according to the exemption application.

Under terms of the agreement, the Hoopeston health system is also transferring its existing nursing home and independent living assets and operations plus an adjacent 25-acres of land to the new foundation to own and operate a replacement nursing home and independent-living facility.

The Carle and Hoopeston hospital boards voted in early 2011 to move ahead with the transaction, but officials of both health care systems said they'd been inching toward a closer relationship since 2009 when they established a formal affiliation to work together.

Billimack said Carle saw a real partnership opportunity to improve health care in Hoopeston. One of the first changes will be making Carle's electronic record system available throughout the Hoopeston system, he said.

"Both organizations truly believe the integration will strengthen the level of care and service in the region and improve the level of access to care, and we're really excited about that," he said.

Hoopeston Regional Health Center is currently owned by a not-for-profit community-owned organization that bought the hospital and nursing home out of bankruptcy in 1989. The clinics were added later.

The planning board is scheduled to consider Carle's request at its July 23-24 meeting, probably on the second day, said board administrator Courtney Avery. Public comments may be made at that session, she said.

Written comments must be submitted to the planning board by July 5. They can be mailed to:

Courtney R. Avery, Administrator

Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board

2nd Floor

525 W. Jefferson St.

Springfield, IL 62761

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