HMH acquires E-town Ortho

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Sale final last week; full staff retained

By Marty Finley

In its continuing efforts to prepare for ramifications of the Affordable Care Act, Hardin Memorial Health has acquired another local practice.

HMH has closed on the purchase of Elizabethtown Orthopedics at 1113 Woodland Drive for $1 million, according to a property transfer listing.

Michelle Murphy, director of marketing and public relations at HMH, said the purchase was final as of Nov. 1 and the full staff of more than 20 employees has been retained. Drs. Marcis A. Craig, Jeffrey N. Been and William C. Nash are listed as physicians on the practice’s official website. Greg Brandenburg is listed as the advanced practice registered nurse.

Murphy said the practice’s daily operations will not change following the acquisition and the purchase is now reflected on Elizabethtown Orthopedics’ signs, business cards and website.

The purchase of Elizabethtown Orthopedics adds to a long list of acquisitions by HMH in recent years, including Surgical Specialists, Elizabethtown Diagnostic Imaging and Acute Care on Ring Road.

Officials have said the acquisitions help HMH prepare for Medicare cuts and other potential costs related to health care reform by increasing volume and spreading the costs across a larger net of services. Hardin Judge-Executive Harry Berry, chairman of the HMH Board of Trustees, said HMH and the county owes it to residents to offer the best service and care as possible and leverage itself as the “major player” in health care in the county.

Berry on Monday said the purchase helps HMH stay competitive in a changing health care environment shaped by new mandates and pressures developed through the Affordable Care Act. To increase its volume and offset rising costs, Berry said practice acquisitions are needed.

The purchase will provide a significant boost to the process of molding HMH into the type of health system envisioned by board members and officials, Berry said.

Murphy agreed and said the investment helps situate the hospital for the unknown.

“We’re just trying to prepare for the future,” she said. “I think most health providers are.”

In an interview earlier this year, HMH President and CEO Dennis Johnson said the purchase of stellar practices and hiring of elite physicians keeps HMH strong but also eases the burden for physicians who double as business owners. Johnson said they play multiple roles in private practice — serving as primary physicians and chief executive officers. They might spend 10 hours a day treating patients, Johnson said, but have to put an additional four hours into managing the business afterward.

“They don’t have to do that anymore,” he said.

The hospital also can provide economies of scale and take care of elements such as hiring and firing, management and health insurance, Johnson said.

Johnson characterized the battle for premier physicians as a “nuclear arms race” between HMH and its competitors to the north, such as Norton Healthcare and Jewish Hospital in Louisville

“If we don’t employ them, one of our competitors will,” Johnson said.

For more information about the practice, go to www.etownortho.com.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.