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Queen's might buy and reopen Hawaii Medical Center-West

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:01 p.m. HST, May 11, 2012

The parent company of the Queen's Medical Center said today that it might purchase and reopen Hawaii Medical Center-West, which was closed late last year as part of a lengthy and contentious bankruptcy.

Queen's Health Systems officials said an agreement with St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii will enable Queen's to explore the feasibility of an acquisition. The Ewa facility, formerly known as St. Francis West, and Hawaii Medical Center in Liliha are being returned to St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii as part of the bankruptcy of the hospitals' owner, Hawaii Medical Center.

Both hospitals closed in December. HMC purchased the Ewa and Liliha campuses from St. Francis in 2007.

Queen's said it will perform due diligence to determine the feasibility of reopening the West Oahu facility as an acute care hospital, including a physical, environmental and regulatory review.

Both sides said in a news release that the agreement to begin negotiations is only a first step and further discussions will remain confidential.

"The Queen's Medical Center is very mindful of the importance of the West Oahu hospital campus to the people of that community," said Art Ushijima, President of Queen's Medical Center. "While we are excited about the possibility of reopening the hospital, it is important to underscore that this is only the first of many steps before a smooth, timely ownership transfer and reopening can be accomplished."

Jerry Correa, president and chief executive officer of St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, said, "Meeting the health needs of the community remains our foremost concern.

"We are looking forward to working with Queen's to revitalize the West campus to continue the legacy of caring established by Saint Marianne Cope and the Sisters of St. Francis. We believe that Queen's is well positioned to provide quality acute health care to the Leeward community."

The Franciscan sisters sold the hospitals in January 2007 for $68 million to HMC LLC, then a for-profit joint venture between Hawaii Physician Group LLC, comprised of 130 local doctors, and Kansas-based Cardiovascular Hospitals of America. St. Francis provided the bulk of the financing for the sale, $40.2 million.

HMC first filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2008. It emerged in August 2010 and became a nonprofit organization before filing its second bankruptcy in June. HMC began closing the hospitals in December, laying off nearly 1,000 workers.

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