Community group calls for Boone Hospital to end lease

Thursday, November 2, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:19 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

About a hundred Boone County business owners and professionals told the Boone Hospital Board of Trustees at a meeting Wednesday night to terminate its lease with its management company early.

Boone Countians for Boone Hospital Center, a new group formed by Tom Atkins, a member of the MU Board of Curators, to promote discussion and educate the public about the hospital’s lease with management firm BJC HealthCare, organized the meeting.

The board has the option to terminate the lease early anytime in 2006. The lease would end two years after the day of termination.

In mid-September, Robert McDavid, vice-chairman of the board, motioned to end the lease. Since then, the trustees have been soliciting public input about the decision.

“If you think BJC’s lease ought to be canceled please stand up,” Atkins said to the crowd. In response, almost everyone stood up and applauded.

McDavid spoke about the hospital’s history and cited several major achievements, such as having the second CAT Scan and MRI in the state, which were accomplished when the hospital was run by an operating board — not a management corporation. He said that the hospital entered into the lease because there was a lot of anxiety at the time about the future of the hospital and the only option was to enter into a lease agreement.

McDavid, along with others, voiced his concerns about the future of the hospital. He said that the hospital is in need of an expansion.

The last expansion was in 1984, he said, and a tower to house more patients should have been built five years ago. The hospital needs more space, intensive-care unit beds, and more employees, he said.

The tower is going to be built and will cost the hospital more than $100 million, McDavid said. He said that BJC is paid too much and the fund could be used to finance the patient tower.

“BJC’s got all this money and we’re going to use a credit card (to pay for the patient tower),” McDavid said.

He, along with others, spoke about the profit split between BJC and the hospital.

Each year, the hospital pays about $21 million to BJC.

BJC gets 50 percent of the hospital’s annual cash flow, about $9.7 million a year, $5.2 million for corporate services, and 3 percent of the hospital’s net revenues for management services.

Trustee Fred Parry, along with others, said that the hospital could hire a management company for about $2 million to $3 million dollars.

He also said that local companies could provide services that are currently contracted by BJC to groups outside the area.

“Those dollars would have a strong impact if they stayed in this community,” Parry said. “There’s no question that the services that BJC provides could be found here in Columbia.”

Parry said that the services received by the hospital from BJC are minimal and the trustees have sent out requests for proposals to other management companies and systems. They expect to receive responses sometime in mid-November.

A public meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce to discuss the lease.

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