The closing date for the sale of Hardin Memorial Health to Baptist Health has been further delayed.
The $361.4 million asset purchase agreement with Baptist Health would transfer ownership of the hospital, which was established in 1954. The closing date originally scheduled for Dec. 1 was pushed to Feb. 1. Now, there is no definitive future closing date.
“We continue to prepare for the transition to become a Baptist Health hospital while the lawsuit is pending,” Judge-Executive Harry Berry said in statement. “We want to be ready to close the sale and join Baptist Health as soon as the lawsuit is concluded.”
The civil suit, filed by former physician Dr. Larry Hall, cites state law regarding the operation of county government and procedures for selling property and asks the court to set aside Hardin Fiscal Court’s 8-1 vote May 22 authorizing the sale of HMH.
In an opinion rendered Oct. 4, Hardin Circuit Judge Kelly Mark Easton determined no violation of state statutes occurred in the process used by Hardin Fiscal Court during the sale of Hardin Memorial Health to Baptist Health. Hall appealed the ruling with the court of appeals.
“It is unfortunate that Dr. Hall’s appeal of Judge Easton’s decision is delaying much-needed investment by Baptist Health for healthcare services in Hardin County,’’ Berry said.
Hall said it is not his fault the legal system moves slowly.
“To go through appeals court on average takes 18 months,” Hall said. “The legal system moves at a slow pace.”
Hall said his issue isn’t so much that county government decided to sell the hospital and its related health businesses, it’s how the sale was conducted.
“All of sudden ... here we are selling it. No time to be political. No time to talk to everybody. No time for anything and it was all done in secret,” he said. “It was not in the open. It was not out right like it should be.”
Under terms of the purchase, Baptist Health would acquire all assets of HMH and commit $235 million over a 10-year period to HMH in operating and capital investments.
Baptist Health also will pay the county $60 million at closing, minus the amount used to fully fund all liabilities associated with HMH’s defined benefit pension plan — estimated at $30 million to $35 million. Baptist also will pay the county another $66.4 million over 25 years and assume all of HMH’s debts.