NASHVILLE • No other bidders came forward to compete for Gilmore Memorial Hospital, leaving North Mississippi Health Services as the only suitor.
North Mississippi Health Services received confirmation Monday that no other bidders filed with the federal bankruptcy court by the 5 p.m. deadline, according to a statement released by the Tupelo hospital system.
“North Mississippi Health Services’ existing bid will proceed as the only bid for consideration by the court, which is currently scheduled to hear the sale order on November 27th. Assuming approval of the sale order by the court on November 27th, the debtors, creditors, North Mississippi Health Services and the court will work towards finalizing the sale transaction by the end of 2018.”
Gilmore Memorial in Amory, along with hospitals in Clarkdale and Batesville, was put up for sale in August as part of the bankruptcy proceedings of its parent company Curae Health. According to federal bankruptcy court filings, the three hospitals have $96 million in liabilities.
Gilmore chief executive officer J. Allen Tyra welcomed the news on Tuesday.
“We are extremely happy with the outcome of the bidding process and look forward to becoming a part of the North Mississippi Health Services family,” he said in a written statement.
A strong hospital and medical community have been a blessing for Amory, providing both quality health care and an economic engine that provided jobs for many, said Amory Mayor Brad Blalock.
“As we move forward with the expectation of North Mississippi Health Services being the parent company of our hospital, we look forward anxiously to the opportunity to work with NMHS as new members of our Amory family in continuing to provide the best healthcare possible to our citizens as well as stability of employment to those currently employed and those to be employed in the future,” he said.
North Mississippi Health Services was approved as the stalking horse bidder, with an opening bid of $10.5 million cash and the assumption of Gilmore’s liabilities and financial commitments.
State Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said he continues to have concerns the sale will lead to an erosion of services and health care professionals in Amory. In October, he called for the creation of a community non-profit organization to enter the bidding.
“This is not an attack on North Mississippi (Health Services) … This is about having a thriving medical community providing as many services as can be offered in Amory,” Bryan said at the time. “It means everything to Amory and very little to North Mississippi (Health Services) in the big picture.”
In response to community concerns, NMHS president and chief executive Shane Spees said the system will invest in the hospital.
“As part of our planning, we’ve identified several capital improvements we know are needed in Amory,” Spees said.
The planning team also sees potential cost savings that can be realized by moving suppliers and vendors from their current contracts to NMHS contracts.
“It’s just one of the benefits of being part of a system,” Spees said. “We feel like we’re the best partner because we can provide long-term sustainability and viability for Gilmore.”
Gilmore, founded in 1916, was a private, not-for-profit, locally owned hospital until 2005 when the board of directors sold it to Florida-based Health Management Associates. The 95-bed hospital was sold to Community Health Systems as part of a merger with Health Management Associates in 2013. Curae Health purchased Gilmore and the Batesville hospital from Community Health Systems in May 2017 and returned the hospitals to non-profit status. Curae purchased the Clarksdale hospital in November 2017.