Foundation may want second look from Tampa General

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By Mike Wright

Tampa General Hospital might still be in the running in the Citrus Memorial hospital sweepstakes.

Citrus Memorial Health Foundation board members may give Tampa General time to redevelop its bid for an affiliation, even though the Citrus County Hospital Board has already eliminated TGH from consideration.

The foundation has its meeting at 5:45 p.m. today. Its regular meeting last Monday was postponed because it was not properly noticed to the public.

Both the hospital board, which owns the hospital, and foundation, which leases it from the hospital board, must agree on one bidder for the sale, lease or merger of Citrus Memorial.

Four bidders — Tampa General, Health Management Associates (HMA), Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and RegionalCare Hospital Partners — made presentations July 10 to the hospital board.

Of the four, Tampa General is the only nonprofit hospital, as is Citrus Memorial. It offered an affiliation with no cash, other than an unspecified amount in capital investments.

After the presentations, hospital board members voted unanimously to remove Tampa General from the running.

The foundation is expected to choose one or two bidders from which to request more information.

Foundation attorney Clark Stillwell said some board members have individually told him they’d like to give Tampa General 30 days to come up with a more definitive proposal that includes ways to help Citrus Memorial with its $53 million in long-term debt.

“Within a short period of time, Tampa General should be able to respond with a financial package,” Stillwell said. “The community would then have a not-for-profit viable package to compare it with the others.”

Hospital board Chairwoman Debbie Ressler said she is open to listening if the foundation keeps the door open for Tampa General.

“We took Tampa General off because, by comparison, they fell well off,” she said. “If Tampa General comes back to the table and they’re pretty much even with the other ones, I think it behooves us to look at it all.”

WHAT: Citrus Memorial Health Foundation board meeting.
WHEN: 5:45 p.m. Monday, July 29.
WHERE: Historic Citrus schoolhouse next to Citrus Memorial.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.