ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lovelace Health System has signed a letter of intent to buy the 26-bed Roswell Regional Hospital and its Family Care Clinic for an undisclosed amount, the Albuquerque-based company announced Friday.
Lovelace CEO Ron Stern said the deal should close about Jan. 31.
“Roswell Regional has the potential to be a true regional hospital in the southeastern part of the state,” Stern said. “Our intention is to create services so patients can stay in the community and, to the degree possible, be served and (only when necessary) be referred to Albuquerque.”
Stern said he plans to evaluate the health-care services, especially specialty services, needed within a 100-mile radius of Roswell. “We’re going to help fund some of their activities, add services to the hospital, and build as appropriate over time,” Stern said. “We’ll welcome every physician in the region” to practice at the Roswell hospital.
Stern said local physicians believe the region needs more primary care providers, gastroenterologists, obstetricians and otolaryngologists.
The hospital employs 280 people, and Stern said Lovelace plans no staffing changes.
Stern said Lovelace’s insurance unit, Lovelace Health Plan, has 30,000 members in the area, and added, “We have had connections with the hospital. They have an active obstetrics department. They refer many to our (neonatal intensive care unit) at Lovelace Women’s Hospital.”
The 77,000-square-foot Roswell hospital was built in 2007 at a cost of $34 million by a group of local investors, including nine physicians, to appeal to physicians and patients who were dissatisfied with Eastern New Mexico Medical Center. That center is a 162-bed hospital in Roswell owned by a publicly traded company, Community Health Systems of Franklin, Tenn.
Roswell Regional struggled financially and had difficulty recruiting its medical staff.
It announced plans to sell to Eastern New Mexico last year. Community Health Systems said in a news release Wednesday it terminated the purchase agreement in the face of a Federal Trade Commission review of the transaction’s effect on hospital competition in the area.
Stern said Lovelace had expressed interest in acquiring the hospital some time ago and contacted Roswell Regional’s owners this week when the Community Health Systems deal foundered. The companies signed the letter of intent Thursday night.
Lovelace, owned by Ardent Health Services of Nashville, bought Heart Hospital of New Mexico last August. It operates three acute care hospitals in Albuquerque. Lovelace says it has invested $300 million in New Mexico since 2002.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal