Bell Hospital announces acquisition intent by LifePoint

ISHPEMING – Bell Hospital’s board has signed a letter of intent for LifePoint to acquire the Ishpeming hospital.

According to a statement released by the hospital’s board of directors this morning, the potential acquisition will provide additional resources for the hospital to strengthen its operations and enhance services. The board engaged an independent adviser in October to help Bell find a strategic partner, Bell board chairman Robert Dellangelo said.

“We considered a variety of companies across the U.S. and ultimately chose LifePoint because it shared our commitment to Ishpeming and the Upper Peninsula,” DellAngelo said in the release. “Providing quality health care to patients is the top priority at Bell Hospital. This proposed acquisition will provide the additional financial, operational and clinical support we need to expand and enhance the services we provide, and navigate the changing healthcare environment.”

The letter of intent is a nonbinding agreement that authorizes Bell and LifePoint to move forward with the necessary steps to pursue the proposed acquisition. According to the statement, the two parties will enter a due diligence and negotiation process, which is projected to take 60 to 90 days. After this period a definitive agreement will be reached. The proposed transaction will then be subject to review and approval by the attorney general of Michigan.

“LifePoint is excited at the prospect of partnering with the dedicated board, management team, clinical staff and employees at Bell Hospital,” LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Carpenter III said. “LifePoint shares Bell Hospital’s commitment to providing quality health care services close to home. Working together, we see many opportunities to enhance health care delivery in Ishpeming. We look forward to exploring this proposed partnership with Bell in the weeks to come.”

According to Bell, becoming a part of LifePoint will give it support to improve quality care, continue to recruit and retain needed physicians and invest in state-of-the-art equipment and facility upgrades. LifePoint will also become a local taxpayer, providing a new tax revenue to support the local economy, and proceeds from the transaction will retire Bell’s financial obligations and fund a small, locally-governed charitable foundation.

“LifePoint has shown a dedication to improving care in our community and being a collaborative partner in our efforts to maintain and enhance health care services locally at Bell Hospital,” said Floyd Bounds, Bell Hospital CEO. “Bell Hospital is delighted to engage in the next steps of this potential LifePoint partnership.”

LifePoint operates 57 hospital campuses in 20 states. In September, Duke LifePoint Healthcare, the joint venture partnership between LifePoint and Duke University Health System, acquired Marquette General Health System in Marquette. Portage Health of Hancock signed a letter of intent with LifePoint last week.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.