Suncoast hospitals part of $7.6 billion acquisition

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SARASOTA COUNTY - A multi-billion dollar hospital buyout is having an impact on the Suncoast. The for-profit company Community Health Systems has agreed to purchase Health Management Associates.

HMA currently owns Venice Regional Medical Center, as well as Charlotte Regional Medical Center in Punta Gorda and Peace River Regional in Port Charlotte.

The hospital in Venice is the largest employer in the city, and any change raises eyebrows, especially one as big as this. However, most we talked to are not concerned.

Community Health Care Systems, Inc. is reported to have spent $7.6 billion for HMA.

"We have heard rumors of this going on for months. I was not really that surprised." Dr. Mark Davis is the Chief of Staff for Charlotte Regional. He believes the public and employees won't see a whole lot of movement. "I personally don't think it is going to mean much of anything to the hospital, physicians, or other employees. I think it will be business as usual with maybe a different parent name."

That would be good news for places like Venice.

"The velocity of money, the spending of that money, is integral to Venice." Mayor John Holic says with a median age of 69 years old, the hospital is a must for those who already live there and a draw for those looking. "The hospital not only being a major employer, it's really a focus and draws a lot of people into the community."

Venice Hospital was started as a non-profit in 1951 with 14 beds. IT is now privately owned with more than 300.

"Look at the major assets we have: our historic downtown, the beach, the airport. You can't talk about the major assets without talking about the hospital. It's integral to the city. It provides services our people need and provides them right here in the community. They don't have to travel anywhere to get it," says Mayor Holic.

Dr. Davis says so far he has received no indication the community in Venice or those in Charlotte County will not get the service they need. “It's important that our patients know our hospitals are here to stay, and that we are going to be here to serve our community needs. I am happy for that."

This is not the first time the Venice hospital has gone through changes. HMA bought it back in 2005 from Bon Secours, a nonprofit. Many then predicted drastic changes for the worse. Most today would say the hospital has improved.