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Potential buyer says MetroSouth owner refuses to negotiate

MSMC Management claims Quorum Health created last-minute roadblocks to reaching a sale agreement.

MetroSouth Medical Center in south suburban Blue Island has been purchased by Lockwood Development Partners
MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island
Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

A willing buyer says the owner of MetroSouth Medical Center refuses to negotiate a sale of the soon-to-shutter Blue Island hospital.

Dr. Seth Guterman, president of MSMC Management, said in a letter to the Chicago Sun-Times he had worked for months to secure a deal to buy MetroSouth from Quorum Health until negotiations stalled in recent weeks.

Guterman said negotiations failed because Quorum suddenly insisted on more money, including a $1 million nonrefundable deposit.

“We agreed upon the ultimate purchase price with Quorum Health and secured the financing to acquire the hospital,” Guterman said. “However, the representations and warranties were not appropriate for this transaction and led Quorum Health to stop negotiations.”

Guterman is also the president of People’s Choice Hospital, which invests in struggling rural hospitals.

Quorum Health said it couldn’t discuss negotiations because of confidentiality agreements.

Since June, MetroSouth CEO John Walsh has cited the company’s inability to find a viable buyer as the reason to close the 314-bed hospital that’s served the area for over 100 years.

In a letter to staff announcing plans to shut down by Sept. 30, Walsh said “there remains no parties committed to assume and maintain the operations of the hospital” and they haven’t found an “organization with the resources willing to sign a binding agreement.”

The closure of MetroSouth is pending review by the Illinois Health and Facilities Review Board despite the facility operators announcing a closing close date. The review board is expected to vote Sept. 17 on the closure.

MetroSouth employees have banded together to work toward saving the hospital. A petition created last week calls on Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to intervene and request the hospital owners to negotiate with MSMC Management.

A group of investors bought MetroSouth, formerly known as St. Francis Hospital, in 2008. Quorum Health, a subsidiary of Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, bought the hospital in 2012. Then Quorum became a separate, publicly traded health care company in 2016.

Manny Ramos is a corps member of Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South Side and West Side.