Starke County officials were approached about the sale of IU Health Starke Hospital to IU Health LaPorte Hospital this week.
One point that hospital spokesman, David Hiatt, pointed out to the commissioners and council members was that IU Health LaPorte Hospital, if successful in purchasing the local hospital, would have no interest in receiving the Save the Hospital Fund that has grown over the years to almost $5 million. The fund, that captures lease payments, was originally set up when Principal leased then-Starke Memorial.
“What would happen to the Save the Hospital Fund going forward, our proposal is that it would remain with the county,” said Hiatt. “IU Health Starke Hospital has no interest in that fund. That fund, as described in the lease, is set up to provide for the health of Starke County residents. We would certainly like to see that continue. How the county does that would be up to the county as its sole discretion. We would like to see it going to improve the health status of Starke County. It’s certainly a valuable asset and that’s up to the county to decide.”
That fund is now $4,745,822.24.
Another change in the make up of the community board would be an expansion into two other counties. If the hospital is sold, the seven member community board that is now made up of Starke County citizens, would be made up of a mixture of Starke, Pulaski and Marshall County representatives.
“We feel that those three counties best represent the service area of IU Health Starke Hospital. We currently own a diagnostic imaging center in Plymouth – that’s our Marshall County connection. One of our busiest orthopedic surgeons operates part of his practice out of Pulaski County. We see that area very much in our service area.”
What happens over the next six months will determine if IU LaPorte Hospital is successful in its proposal to not lease, but own IU Health Starke Hospital.
“I think the next steps, as defined later, to form a working group that would sit down and really look at the details in depth with hopefully having the closing by April of 2012. We’re still allowing some time for this.”
The committee of Commission President Dan Bridegroom, Councilmen Mitch Semans, Tony Radkiewicz, and Marvin McLaughlin, plus yet to be named representatives from the IU Health Starke Hospital community board will be bringing a recommendation to the county on the sale of the hospital. And as proposed by officials of IU Health LaPorte Hospital, that decision should be made before April of 2012, so they can make their long and short term plans.