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Records show hospital losing money for past two years

Mineral Area Regional Medical Center has been losing money for at least the past two years, according to IRS records, however local officials were not commenting today about the losses.

Stephen Crain, director of MARMC, said he would talk about it only if he &#8220had indication from BJC on that” and only if a list of questions was submitted to him. A list of questions has been prepared and faxed to his office. The answers were not available for today at press time.

Crain said MARMC and Parkland Health Center are getting close to a resolution on negotiations that could lead to an affiliation or merger of the two facilities and he does not want to say anything that will upset that.

Mineral Area Regional is one of the last remaining osteopathic hospitals in the state. The hospital had recently upgraded its emergency room, adding a trauma unit and a hazardous chemical decontamination unit. Officials have said previously the hospital refinanced existing bonds to do the construction work, and that did not affect its losses.

It posted a $1.36 million loss in 2004, according to a report by the American Hospital Directory, which publishes a free report on hospitals across the nation.

According to the report, gross revenue was $109 million.

The same report showed that Parkland had earned $3.13 million, with gross revenue of $89.9 million, which Conklin said just barely gives them the 3 percent needed to meet annual capital investments for maintenance and improvements.

Parkland Administrator Richard Conklin referred the Daily Journal to Crain for questions relating to financial difficulties at MARMC, but indicated he also believes they are close to a resolution.

Right now the process is in the &#8220due diligence” stage, which means a review of buildings, processes, services and finances.

Conklin said he hopes they can issue a letter of intent within a 90-day period of entering the negotiations, which would put the target date sometime in February. However, the timetable is not set in stone, either, and could take longer.

Boards for the hospitals have met two to three times, Conklin said, and involved a large number of people, including board members from MARMC, Parkland, and BJC, as well as attorneys.

Any agreement the two not-for-profit entities reach will have to be approved by the Missouri Attorney General since both receive public funding. Depending on what the agreement contains, it could also require approval of other state agencies.

June Fowler, BJC Communications Vice President, said the leaders of both facilities are taking care that the best interests of health care for the community are taken into consideration as the process moves forward.

&#8220I think both organizations are committed to doing what’s best for the community as far as providing excellent care with the least possible disruption to our employees,” Fowler said.

She said it is not known at this time what the merger might mean to the employees. The answer will likely depend on whether both facilities remain open.

Parkland has put its emergency room upgrade on hold during the negotiation and due diligence phase, Fowler said, explaining that it wouldn’t make sense for Parkland to proceed with such a costly project right now as MARMC has just completed a similar upgrade.

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