(IRON MOUNTAIN, MI.)–A public hearing Monday marks another step in the proposed sale of Dickinson County Healthcare System to Bellin Health, targeted for completion July 1. The location of the hearing and time of the hearing has been changed. The hearing will be held at 7pm at Fornetti Hall on Bay West Campus on North US 2. Bellin is a Wisconsin non-profit corporation based in Green Bay, announced plans in December to acquire financially troubled Dickinson County Healthcare System(DCHS). Both parties accepted an asset purchase agreement earlier this month, subject to approval by the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners. Board approval will be needed by April 1 and a vote is planned on Monday. Consent from the Michigan Department of the Attorney General is required before the July 1 closing date.
Terms of the agreement include have been cited as:
— Bellin will hire all of the existing DCHS employees, including physician employees and management, at the existing terms and conditions of employment. Bellin also will recognize each collective bargaining agent and take over existing collective bargaining agreements.
— Bellin will appoint an initial 11-member board of directors, of which five will be Dickinson County residents and two will be hospital medical staff. The initial local directors will be nominated by the current DCHS Board of Trustees.
— Bellin will operate the facility as a licensed hospital, either as a general acute care hospital or as a critical access hospital, for at least five years. It will remain a non-profit, tax-exempt hospital and will provide charity care as required by a tax-exempt hospital, accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients and all other patients regardless of their ability to pay. Bellin will do an assessment of the community’s health needs as required by tax-exempt hospitals and will provide a plan on how to meet those community needs.
— Essentially, all of the purchase price will be used to pay the hospital’s long-term debt and unfunded pension liabilities. That total figure has been reported by the hospital’s legal counsel at an estimated $61.3 million, though hospital officials say the agreement is a fluid process with a number of “moving targets.” The dollar amounts are subject to adjustments.
In early March, representatives of Bellin Health, signed an agreement to provide DCHS an emergency line of credit of up to $8 million to meet short-term cash needs. Bellin, then, is subsidizing DCHS leading up to the closing date. Bellin representative Amy Dettman has been named chief restructuring officer to oversee the transition of DCHS to Bellin. DCHS has more than 90 active physicians and operates as a Michigan municipal health facility corporation under Public Act 230. As such, it receives no direct county appropriations or taxpayer support and has been self-sustaining since moving to its U.S. 2 facility in 1996. DCHS has more than doubled its staff and patient utilization over the past 20 years, according to John Schon, CEO-administrator. Hospital officials reported a $10 million decline in revenues in 2017, largely linked to standards for Medicare, Medicaid and other government reimbursements, as well as poor levels of reimbursement from Blue Cross Blue Shield. The proposed new entity, Bellin-DCHS, would fall under the umbrella of Bellin Health System, which includes Bellin Hospital, an acute care, 167-bed, multi-specialty hospital in Green Bay. Bellin-DCHS would be a sub-entity of the Bellin system, with its board of directors answering to the Bellin board. This is similar to the structure for other Bellin sub-entities, such as Bellin Psychiatric Center in Allouez, Wis., and Bellin College of Nursing in Bellevue, Wis. Bellin has worked collaboratively with DCHS for about 35 years, starting with cardiology services. “We know each other and that’s a huge benefit,” Bellin president-CEO George Kerwin said when the planned acquisition was announced. The information provided had been supplied earlier through press releases by both DCHS and Bellin Health. The Dickinson County Board of Commissioners will meet in the Circuit Court Room on Monday at 5pm.