Catholic hospital explores affiliation with Seacoast for-profit hospital company

By PAUL CUNO-BOOTH

New Hampshire Public Radio

Published: 09-30-2023 9:00 AM

Catholic Medical Center in Manchester is exploring a possible merger with HCA Healthcare, the large for-profit company that also owns hospitals in Portsmouth, Rochester and Derry.

The Manchester hospital announced Wednesday that it signed a non-binding letter of intent, the first of many steps in a potential deal.

In a news release, Catholic Medical Center said joining HCA would “enhance the immediate and long-term financial viability” of the hospital, while allowing it to maintain its Catholic identity and ethical directives.

Catholic Medical Center would no longer be a nonprofit if it joins HCA, though it would continue to operate as a Catholic hospital, according to a spokesperson.

If the deal proceeds as planned, Catholic Medical Center and HCA Healthcare intend to “create a non-profit foundation to carry on CMC’s commitment to serve the needs of our community for generations to come,” the press release said.

“We have been on a journey to identify a partner that will, first and foremost, support our mission of health, healing and hope, as well as a partner who will embrace who we are as a Catholic hospital,” Alex Walker, Catholic Medical Center’s president and CEO, said in the release.

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Catholic Medical Center previously tried to join the Dartmouth Health system. That deal fell apart last year when the New Hampshire Department of Justice objected, citing concerns that it would restrict competition and lead to higher health care costs.

The potential deal with Dartmouth Health came as part of Catholic Medical Center’s involvement in another healthcare partnership, GraniteOne Health, which also included Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro and Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough. The hospitals have since voted to dissolve the GraniteOne system, according to a notice posted on the system’s website.

HCA Healthcare, based in Nashville, owns more than 180 hospitals and more than 2,300 other medical facilities in the U.S. and U.K., according to its website. In New Hampshire, that includes Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester and Parkland Medical Center in Derry.

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