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Ex-St. Francis exec, Calif. firm offer to buy 2 Oahu hospitals

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:25 p.m. HST, May 16, 2012

A former St. Francis Healthcare executive and a California-based medical group have submitted a letter of intent to acquire the shuttered Hawaii Medical Center facilities in Ewa and Liliha, the partnership announced today.
Eugene Tiwanak, the former president and chief executive officer of the St. Francis Healthcare Foundation and St. Francis Residential Care Community, has joined with Hampton Health Ltd. Hawaii LLC, in the offer to buy the properties from St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii. 
The letter was hand-delivered Tuesday but the price remains confidential, according to a news release from the partnership.
HMC-West in Ewa and its emergency room abruptly closed in December, creating an immediate strain on Oahu's emergency medical services as ambulances were diverted, overloading other hospitals. HMC-East in Li­liha closed in January. The two are returning to St. Francis Healthcare's control as part of a lengthy and contentious bankruptcy of the hospitals' owner, Hawaii Medical Center.
The closures displaced the most vulnerable long-term chronic disease patients, halted lifesaving transplants and resulted in layoffs of nearly 1,000 workers.
In bankruptcy filings, a financial adviser for HMC last year estimated the value of the buildings and leasehold interest for the Ewa campus at roughly $28 million
Last week, officials from the parent company of the Queen's Medical Center announced an agreement with St. Francis Healthcare that will enable Queen's to explore the feasibility of reopening the Ewa hospital. Queen's officials described the agreement as the first step in a length process.
Today's announcement said that Hampton Health Ltd. has obtained the necessary financing from investors to acquire both hospitals.
"I have worked in many capacities for the Sisters of St. Francis since 1973, including planning, raising funds, administration and community outreach," said Tiwanak. "It would be a privilege to guide these healthcare institutions as chief executive officer if we can reach agreement with St. Francis Healthcare System."
St. Francis Healthcare insists that a buyer must abide by Catholic ethical and religious directives, including prohibiting abortions and assisted suicide, as well as agree to provide indigent care — a requirement that ultimately led to the demise of the hospitals, which serviced primarily low-income patients covered by the state's low-reimbursing Medicaid health insurance program.
Tiwanak said Hampton intends to meet those directives. "Hampton Health will continue to operate the hospitals under the beliefs of the Catholic Church," he said.
Hampton Health would expand medical services and programs, particularly at the Ewa hospital, according to the announcement. Tiwanak also said Hampton Health was interested in partnering with Hawaii-based medical service providers, and in acquiring the fee interest in both campuses. However, the company would also be open to discussing a long-term lease acquisition, he added. 
Hampton Health Ltd. was founded by Dr. John H. Fullerton and is based in San Francisco.

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