Starke Commissioners Poised to Approve Hospital Lease Assignment

IU HealthThe Starke County Commissioners will clear the way for the sale of IU Health Starke Hospital during a special meeting later today. They will formally approve the assignment of the hospital lease to Knox Hospital, LLC during the special-called 4:30 p.m. session. That’s the limited liability company set up by IU Health and Community Health Systems. The Tennessee-based company is in the process of buying IU Health LaPorte and Starke Hospitals.

Starke County owns the hospital and leases it to IU Health. CHS officials say the assignment of the lease needs to be done this week in order to keep the acquisition on track. They’ve expressed a desire to work with the county to switch it to a land lease in order to allow for construction of a new hospital between the current building and doctors offices in what is now the parking lot and helipad at the existing site.

Tentative plans call for construction to start two years after the sale closes later this year and finish in five. The current hospital will stay open until the new building is complete and later be torn down to accommodate parking.

CHS officials have asked the county for some tax incentives as part of the process and said they would like to sign an initial 25-year lease with five 10-year renewal options, for a total of 75 years. Details of those plans still need to be worked out. If they aren’t finalized by the March 31 deadline to renew the current lease, the county commissioners have verbally agreed to a six-month extension of the current terms.

Community Health Systems operates 199 hospitals in 30 states.