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St. Francis prepares its Ewa hospital site for sale

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 11:01 a.m. HST, Jul 6, 2012

St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii announced Friday that it is preparing the former Hawaii Medical Center campus in West Oahu for sale.

The Roman Catholic religious order did not say when it expects a sale to occur or how far along negotiations are with The Queen's Medical Center, which announced in May that it had agreed to explore the feasibility of acquiring and reopening the Ewa campus.

"The due diligence is still going on, the letter of intent is that they're just exploring the possibility of acquiring and reopening," said St. Francis spokesman Nathan Hokama, adding that plans to reopen the former HMC-East facility in Liliha haven't been announced yet.

The Ewa facility and its emergency room abruptly shut down in December, creating an immediate strain on Oahu's emergency medical services as ambulances were diverted, overloading other hospitals.

Hawaii Medical Center-West was the only acute-care hospital in Leeward Oahu until its closure last year. The Liliha hospital closed in early January.

Meanwhile, a former St. Francis Healthcare executive and a California-based medical group have submitted a letter of intent to acquire the shuttered facilities in Ewa and Liliha.

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. Tiwanak said St. Francis hasn't responded to the offer.

St. Francis is seeking volunteers to help with a garage sale at the Ewa campus on  July 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Community volunteers also are needed to help stage excess hospital equipment on July 14 at 8:30 a.m.

"Preparing the West Oahu hospital for sale is one of our top priorities in the next few months," said Jerry Correa, St. Francis president and chief executive officer.  

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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