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Updated Thursday, April 15, 2010 9:11 PM

LHP Hospital Group and Texas Health Resources finalize purchase of Wilson N. Jones Medical Center

BY JONATHAN CANNON

HERALD DEMOCRAT

SHERMAN -- After months of delays, Wilson N. Jones Medical Center officials announced Thursday they had closed the purchase deal with LHP Hospital Group and Texas Health Resources.

According to a press release, Texas Health -- one of North Texas' largest systems and includes Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Presbyterian -- will own the majority stake in Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital-WNJ, as it will now be known, while LHP will manage the hospital's operations. WNJ president and CEO Pat Flynn said the change will be effective immediately as hospital telephone operators began answering with the new name on Thursday.

"The journey to this partnership has been a long one but it has brought us to a new day for health care for the communities Wilson N. Jones has served for over 96 years," Wilson N. JonesBoard of Directors Chair Gail Utter said in the release. "The name may have changed, but the mission of improving health has not."

Flynn echoed Utter and said that while Wilson N. Jones will become a for-profit hospital, it will maintain its current charity care policy. He said the deal's architects made the changes to the trust, which supports the hospital, through district court with approval from the Texas Attorney General's office.

He said the new hospital will honor the "intent" of hospital benefactor Wilson N. Jones' will, which stipulates that care not be denied to anyone because of their ability to pay. In fact, Flynn said, the proceeds from the sale will go to the hospital's foundation to further that end.

Flynn said one thing that will change is the hospital's access to capital; it's ability to maintain the latest technology and retain talented healthcare workers.

"It's kind of the best of both worlds," Flynn said. "We know this kind of a unique joint venture, and you don't see many like this, but it fits here, and I think we're going to do well because of it."

Flynn said the venture will invest a minimum of $25 million into the hospital during the next four year, but said plans dictating how hospital administrators will allocate the money remain flexible.

He said the hospital will develop a committee to examine and prioritize the hospital's needs, and that one area of focus will be the emergency room.

"The medical staff is very excited about our new partnership with THR and LHP," said Dr. Gary Marlow, Wilson N. Jones chief of staff. "This relationship will make us a stronger, better hospital as we bring a new level of healthcare to our community."

The venture will also give Wilson N. Jones patients access to the health programs of THR. For the time being, however, Flynn said patients won't notice many immediate change besides what they hear when they call the hospital, but said he believed the change "was the right thing for us, long term, and for this community. ... For our employees and our patients it brings stability to the organization and a higher level of care as we go forward."



Comments ... 4 found!

Hospital : 4/18/2010
This will be a good thing. I would like for the new owners to meet with the staff and tell them to have a better doctor/patient visit. Also to bring someone in to clean the place up.

Paula

WNJ Purchase : 4/18/2010
Although I am very excited for a new and improved WNJ by a very reputable ownership, I am concerned that Sherman no longer has a community hospital. The two local hospitals we have now are both for profit which is concerning. I hope that the new owners clean house and make WNJ a well respected and caring facility as their other's. In the past, it has not had a good reputation. I guess we shall see.

Happy But Concerned

Thanks : 4/16/2010
This is the best thing that could happen for Sherman in a long long time.

Matt

WNJ Purchase : 4/16/2010
As a 20 year healthcare verteran, I see this as a very good decision on the part of WNJ's Board. Texas Health Resources enjoys a great reputation in the industry and is further known as an employee-friendly company. LHP Group brings a wealth of knowledge to the table as well. Congratulations to Sherman and to the WNJ family!

Jerry Pickett
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