UC Memorial Hospital board picks N.C. firm to guide sale

Brad Hicks • Oct 23, 2012 at 10:40 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Memorial Hospital Board of Control has selected a North Carolina legal firm to represent it during the hospital’s acquisition process.

At a called meeting Tuesday, the board unanimously voted to accept a proposal from Asheville-based McGuire, Wood & Bissette, one of three proposals up for the consideration. Board Chairman Glenn Tilson said the move was made to make sure the board has an attorney in place when the hospital is sold and that the firm does have previous dealings with hospitals.

On Oct. 10, the board approved authorizing Tilson to engage legal counsel during the hospital transaction. The firm to be hired by the board was to have experience in mergers and acquisitions and no prior connections to Wellmont Health System or Mountain States Health Alliance, both of which have submitted proposals in an effort to gain ownership of UCMH.

Tilson previously said he reached out to five firms, two of which had previous dealings with MSHA. The three remaining proposals were from McGuire, Wood & Bissette, Chattanooga-based Miller & Martin, Knoxville-based Wanger, Myers & Sanger.

Prior to the board’s vote, board Secretary/Treasurer Russell Brackins said McGuire, Wood & Bissette’s proximity to Unicoi County should factor into the decision. Board Vice Chairman Roland Bailey agreed.

“The firm in Asheville would be more available on a timely-type basis as we need them during this period,” Bailey said.

The board also unanimously approved the release of the revised UCMH acquisition proposals submitted by Wellmont and MSHA on Oct. 10 to make them available for public review. Although both health care entities have made the proposals available to the public on their respective websites, Tilson said state law states the proposals must be made public by the board for at least seven days prior to the board’s consideration of them.

“Even though that they have been released on Wellmont and Mountain States’ websites, I think we should take the action to release them to the public here in Erwin,” Tilson said prior to the vote.

Copies of the proposals will be available to the public in the UCMH administrative office, at town halls for the towns of Erwin and Unicoi, and the Unicoi County Courthouse.

Tilson said the dates for a strategic planning session at which the board will discuss the proposals and the public meeting at which it will vote on one have not yet been set.

In other business, the board approved a new emergency room physician contract with ECI/AEP. UCMH Interim CEO Jete Edmisson said the bid was around $870,000, a savings of around $200,000 on other bids submitted. The start date of the contract is Nov. 1.

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