HOPE, Ark. (AP) - An Ohio asset management company has added a wrinkle to the financial saga of a Hope, Ark., hospital that is millions of dollars in debt.
Nexus Healthcare Holdings announced Wednesday that it has taken over ownership and management of Medical Park Hospital. Company president Jim Pack said in a news release that the acquisition clears the way for an "aggressive turnaround of the distressed community hospital beginning immediately."
"We are committed to making Hope Medical Park the best community hospital it can be," Pack said.
However, Nexus' plans will not derail the efforts of IASIS Healthcare to take over Medical Park from Shiloh Health Services and affiliated companies.
On April 18, IASIS, the parent company of Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana, Texas, began legal proceedings to foreclose on the hospital.
Tom Gilbert, president and CEO of Wadley, issued a statement Wednesday concerning Nexus' acquisition of Medical Park.
"IASIS/Wadley has not been notified of any transfer of the ownership of Medical Park Hospital. Even if such transfer has occurred, the hospital assets remain subject to the lien held by IASIS/Wadley, and the pending foreclosure and collection lawsuit will continue unless the debtor is able to pay off the note and unpaid back taxes," Gilbert said.
IASIS took control of Medical Park's mortgage in March in a deal with Signature Hospital Corp. Signature had owned Medical Park until 2008, when it sold the hospital to Shiloh in exchange for a $5 million promissory note.
The hospital owes IASIS $4.5 million on a loan. The owners also still owe more than $3 million to the IRS, $415,000 in delinquent property taxes and thousands of dollars to vendors and state agencies.
On Wednesday, Pack, Neil Johnson, managing partner at Lawrence, Evans & Co., and Dr. Robert Banasik, president of Omnilife Systems Inc. outlined their plans for the hospital with community leaders in Hope.
Lawrence, Evans & Co. is consulting on the acquisition, and Omnilife will take over management.
Pack said Nexus purchased the stock of Hope Medical Park from former owner James Cheek, who pleaded guilty to federal tax charges and is no longer associated with the hospital. Cheek was also a principal in Carraway Medical Systems LLC, which managed the hospital.
Pack said taking over the hospital is a major challenge that will call for difficult decisions in the reorganization of the hospital in the coming months, but he told officials the new ownership should begin to remove some of the uncertainty that has gripped the facility in recent years.
"It's in everyone's interest to maintain Medical Park as a top-notch community hospital," he said. "We believe it is an integral part of this community, and we want to see it continue to be so."
Pack said more announcements about the hospital will be made in coming weeks.
Mayor Dennis Ramsey of Hope and state Sen. Larry Teague were unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Several Hope physicians sent a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe pleading for intervention to save the hospital in mid-April. The letter blames Cheek and his company, Carraway Medical Systems, for intentionally pushing the hospital into financial ruin.
Dr. Dale Goins, chief of staff at Medical Park and the letter's lead author, was unavailable Wednesday for comment about the announcement.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)