Cash-strapped FL hospital seeks partner to expand cardiac care

Cash strapped Helen Ellis Memorial, a Tampa area Florida non-profit hospital, is reconsidering privatization if it can't find strategic investors to help it expand its cardiac care services. The Tarpon Springs-based facility hopes to raise $50 million so that it can add open-heart surgery and related cardiac care. In February, the hospital started offering more modest cardiac services after the state granted it a license to provide elective angioplasties. 

Helen Ellis Memorial reports that unpaid hospital bills and other uncompensated care are forcing it to seek outside investors. The hospital's CEO, Don Evans, says he'd prefer not to privatize the facility, but if economic conditions worsen, it may be the only viable option.  

The city-owned hospital is currently managed by University Community Health (UCH), which runs three other non-profit medical facilities in the area. According to Evans, UCH is also struggling and keen to find a partner to jointly manage Helen Ellis Memorial. Evans and UCH believe that an infusion of capital from strategic investors could fund more lucrative cardiac care services. In short, Evans and UCH hope to attract insured patients who can pay their bills. Cardiac care could improve the facility's now precarious financial situation, according to UCH and Evans. 

The St. Petersburg Times reports that area residents pressured the city commissioners to reject Columbia/HCA's bid to take over management and privatize the facility in 1995. UCH and hospital's executives cannot unilaterally forge agreements with new funding and management partners without winning support via a citywide voter referendum.

To learn more:
- see The St. Petersburg Times story