Healthcare

Metropolitan Hospital of Miami to be sold

 

dchang@MiamiHerald.com

Metropolitan Hospital of Miami, a small private hospital struggling to compete in a changing market dominated by increasingly larger healthcare conglomerates, is being sold for the second time in seven years, according to several sources.

In a memo delivered Thursday to Metropolitan Hospital’s estimated 450 employees — with the subject, “Sale of Hospital” — Chief Executive Gene Marini urged the staff to continue working hard but made no promises that they would keep their jobs under the new owners.

“The hospital is in a sale process,’’ Marini wrote. “We hereby inform you that we have reached an agreement with the buyer, subject to a subsequent asset transfer in the upcoming months.’’

Marini’s memo hinted that some hospital employees may keep their jobs after interviews with the new buyer, whom he did not identify.

“We have prepared various areas to allow the buyer’s representatives to interview candidates and inform those selected about the terms and conditions of the service relationship,’’ he wrote.

Marini did not return a message left at his office Friday, and the hospital’s administrative office was not accepting calls in the afternoon. Metropolitan Hospital’s website also has been down since at least Friday morning.

The hospital’s sale price has not been disclosed, and the transaction requires approval from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, which received a change of ownership application for Metropolitan Hospital on Jan. 15, said Shelisha Coleman, a spokeswoman.

Coleman said a new owner would be permitted to continue providing general acute care, such as surgeries and emergency medical services. The only restriction is that the hospital cannot limit its services to cardiac-, orthopedic- or cancer-related diseases, and neither can 65 percent or more of patient discharges fall within those diagnoses groups, Coleman said.

Formerly called Pan American Hospital, Metropolitan changed ownership and names in 2007, when a Puerto Rico hospital chain bought the facility out of bankruptcy court for $34 million.

Despite new owners and a smaller staff no longer represented by the SEIU Florida Healthcare Union, Metropolitan Hospital has been losing money for several years, according to financial data reported by hospitals to the state.

Metropolitan administrators reported losing $4.4 million in 2011 on operating expenses of about $43.8 million. That was a bigger loss than 2010, when the hospital lost about $1.3 million on operating expenses of $42.1 million.

The hospital, located near Miami International Airport, was founded in 1963 by Cuban immigrants to serve their community. It’s licensed for 146 beds and includes an emergency room.

But the hospital’s staff has declined steadily since 2006, when it had 681 employees. In 2011, Metropolitan had 470 full-time employees including 292 staff physicians, according to state records.

The hospital reported about 5,000 admissions in 2011, with patients experiencing an average length of stay of about five days. Its patients are predominantly Hispanic, and many are seniors on Original Medicare, in Medicare HMOs, such as Leon Medical Centers, and on Medicaid, according to state records

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