MARQUETTE - The Marquette General Health System Board of Trustees has announced it is one step closer to completing the acquisition of the hospital by Duke LifePoint Healthcare.
Today the board announced it has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Duke LifePoint, which outlines investments Duke LifePoint will make in the hospital in technology, physician recruitment and capital improvements.
That agreement must now be reviewed and approved by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, which may happen by late summer.
Marquette General Hospital is seen in this file photo. (Journal file photo)
"We are very pleased to have reached this agreement and take the next steps in becoming part of Duke LifePoint," said MGHS Board Chairman Brad Cory. "After completing due diligence and closely examining the potential benefits of a Duke LifePoint acquisition for our hospital and community, our team is more enthusiastic about this partnership than ever. Duke LifePoint will provide Marquette General the resources we need to strengthen our hospital, enhance the services we offer and advance healthcare across the Upper Peninsula."
Board Vice Chairwoman Judy Watson-Olson agreed.
"It's very positive. It's been moving forward just as we had hoped," she said.
Watson-Olson said the signed agreement is the second in a three-phase process for the acquisition. The first step was the initial memorandum of understanding between the two organizations.
The final agreement, which was signed late last week, is the second step with the attorney general approval being the third step in the process.
That approval includes a review of the final agreement and a visit to Marquette from a team from the attorney general's office, which is expected in mid-July, to review whether the acquisition is a positive step for the community, Watson-Olson said.
"They're going over every part of this decision with a fine-toothed comb," she said.
Once the approval is given, Duke LifePoint can begin the transition process of taking over operations of the hospital, she added.
Funding resulting from the acquisition will be used to eliminate MGH's debt and to fund its pension program, with the remaining proceeds to be used to fund a foundation for the community that will support healthcare organizations and initiatives in the U.P.
"This acquisition has the potential to be a major milestone in Marquette General's history," said MGHS President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Muller. "Duke LifePoint shares our dedication to community involvement, charity care, strong physician relationships and an exceptional work environment. Its leaders are committed to working with us to find ways that we can respond to the evolving healthcare needs in our region."
Under the agreement terms, Duke LifePoint is committed to investing in physician recruitment and capital improvement projects, which includes new outpatient surgery center, a comprehensive cancer center, private patient rooms, new technology and information technology infrastructure.
Additionally, Duke LifePoint will offer employment to all current MGH employees, subject to standard pre-employment screenings, and assume the hospital's obligations under its contract with the Michigan Nurses Association. Additional terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.
Among the benefits to the greater Marquette community resulting from the acquisition are the economic benefit of the construction of new facilities, spending at local businesses and the hospital becoming a for-profit institution added to the tax rolls. Duke LifePoint has also committed to maintaining relationships between the hospital and local organizations such as Northern Michigan University, Superior Health Partners and Michigan State University.
"Welcoming Marquette General to Duke LifePoint is a momentous occasion for us," said LifePoint Chairman and CEO William F. Carpenter III. "This new relationship strengthens our efforts to provide quality healthcare close to home, and our team looks forward to partnering with the exceptional employees and physicians at Marquette General to transform healthcare in its communities."
Once approved by the attorney general, MGH will become Duke LifePoint's first hospital in Michigan.
"Marquette General and Duke LifePoint share many important values, including a focus on serving our communities and providing top quality care to our patients," said Dr. William J. Fulkerson Jr., executive vice president of the Duke University Health System. "This acquisition is an excellent match for both of our organizations, and we have a great opportunity to work together to enhance healthcare delivery throughout the Upper Peninsula."
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.