Monday, December 22, 2014

Ailing Lower Bucks Hospital sold to California chain

Prime Healthcare will invest $10 million+, lend $3 million

Ailing Lower Bucks Hospital sold to California chain

Prime Healthcare Services, the California-based, for-profit chain of 18 mostly West Coast hospitals and which recently acquired Roxborough Memorial Hospital, says it also plans to acquire 156-bed Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol.

Prime will spend "at a minimum" $10 million for "needed capital improvements," company spokesman Edward Barrera told me, correcting the company's earlier statement that it would invest "up to" $10 million.

Prime, owned by chief executive Dr. Prem Reddy, has also made $3 million in working capital finance available to Lower Bucks, and will "honor all contracts, liabilities, and union agreements," which cover nurses and maintenance workers. Total staff includes 400 doctors and 1,400 "employees and volunteers."

Prime specializes in hospitals with "financial problems" that treat mostly poor patients and rely heavily on government reimbursement, said Albert Mezzaroba, the Lower Bucks CEO who closed the deal.  He told me the chain has a history of cutting expenses without cancelling medical programs, and gives special attention to bill collection. Mezzaroba said he wasn't sure Prime's long-term plans for him.

Lower Bucks filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, and exited earlier this year after State Sen. Tommy Thompson convinced the legislature to use $14 million in casino table games profit payments from the Parx casino to fund part of the hospital's bond debt. SSG Group of West Conshohocken and the Saul Ewing law firm advised Lower Bucks.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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