Ochsner Health System will continue to operate Hancock Medical Center and rename it Ochsner Hancock Medical Center under a long-term lease agreement with the Hancock County Board of Supervisors.
This agreement expands the partnership between the county and Ochsner created in 2013. The lease provides Ochsner with the option to purchase the hospital at the end of the lease term.
Ochsner has committed to invest $33.75 million in lease payments and capital investments into the county and facility and to make efforts to recruit physicians and expand clinical services.
A seven-member advisory board will be named, with at least three community members appointed by the Hancock Supervisors and the president of the supervisors serving as an ex officio member. The agreement is a 25-year lease valued at an average of $850,000 in annual lease payments with a required $500,000 annual capital investment into the facility.
One of Ochsner’s first actions will be to implement Epic, an electronic healthcare information software designed to improve coordination of care, revenue and patient registration and scheduling. It will allow patients better access to their health information through the MyChart patient portal.
Hancock Medical Center, under Ochsner’s management, experienced positive operational cash flow for the first time in nearly a dozen years. The hospital also has made significant improvements in quality metrics and higher patient experience scores in both the hospital and clinics.
Blaine LaFontaine, Hancock supervisors president, said the board met with many potential partners but feels confident that Ochsner Health System will continue to lead Hancock Medical in the right direction.
Ochsner will provide acute-care services for at least five years; maintain a large percentage of local employees and doctors; provide the county with yearly data and reports; and allow a seven-member board to manage the hospital, with three of the representatives being chosen by the county, the Sea Coast Echo reported.
Ochsner will not be able to independently terminate the agreement, officials said. At the end of the lease, Ochsner will be able to purchase the hospital for $1, officials said.
Last year, the board began investigating whether selling Hancock Medical was feasible. The board contracted with Healthcare Management Partners (HMP), a Tennessee-based company, to begin the process of leasing or selling the hospital.
Scott Phillips of HMP said Tuesday that about 110 hospitals and medical providers were identified as potential bidders.
Of those, eight companies showed interested throughout various stages of the process, Phillips said.
Last month, Ochsner agreed to be the “stalking horse” bidder when it entered its proposal.
According to Phillips, no other company decided to turn in a proposal against Ochsners bid.
Sea Coast Echo contributed to this report.