To the Journal editor:
It has been almost 7 years since Marquette General Hospital was purchased by Duke LifePoint. It has been a difficult road at times and not without some regrets, but on April 5th with the ribbon cutting ceremony we all have something to celebrate.
As a way of review and to give prospective, I would like to recount the major impetus behind the sale, as I was a member of the hospital board at the time. Marquette General was eking out a narrow profit year after year of just about 1 percent and had over $30 million dollars in underfunded retirement obligations.
The competition and the changing healthcare environment was making it harder and harder to survive. There were no financial reserves to plan for any infrastructure changes at our old hospital which we desperately needed to survive let alone increase the quality of health care in the Upper Peninsula.
Rather than wait and hope with over 60 rural hospitals closing since 2010, the board explored a sale while MGH was still an attractive asset to buy. Part of that sale mandated investment of $350 million dollars of which our new hospital is the central success.
This accomplishment has not come easy and is not perfect. We now look back and chuckle when we read the words of then MGH CEO Gary Muller who stated, “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.” (Heathcare Finance News, July 2012).
Well, OK that was probably a stretch, but four CEOs latter we still got a new hospital out of it and that is what we really needed.
So, put aside your hard feelings and resentment. Come visit the new hospital and enjoy a community success. Don’t wallow in complaining that Duke LifePoint didn’t keep every promise and wasn’t always a great community partner. Come out to the ribbon cutting and shake the hands of the executives from RCCH healthcare partners who fly in for the photo op.
We have a new hospital! And, if in 3 years when the no sale portion of the original sales agreement expires and the hospital is sold once again, we will still have a new hospital and that is great for Marquette and the U.P.