Deal to Sell Struggling Hospital Collapses

Paul Tuft of the hospital's parent company says it will reassess how to search for a new owner.
By Susan Levine
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Prince George's County businessman's protracted purchase of Greater Southeast Community Hospital has fallen apart, with the District hospital's corporate parent now considering "a variety of options" regarding the sale.

Paul Tuft, chairman of Envision Hospital Corp., the current owner, said that an exclusive agreement with businessman Carl D. Jones is over after nearly a year.

Tuft's message was conveyed in a letter to D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), the health committee chairman, informing him that the Arizona-based company has begun assessing how to move toward new ownership or management of the struggling facility.

The update confirmed what many local officials had suspected, although no details were released about the purported $57 million deal with Jones. The businessman, who has no experience in health care, never publicly disclosed his financing or identified a company to run the 110-bed hospital. Neither Jones nor his attorney returned calls for comment late yesterday.

The development might prove positive for Greater Southeast. For months, severe staffing, supply and equipment problems have drawn criticism of the hospital and its owner, and the lack of progress on a sale has added to the fire.

Several groups involved in local hospitals have approached Envision for discussions and potential negotiations.

From Scottsdale yesterday, Tuft had little to say about the immediate future. With revenue shortfalls and a recent commitment to allocate $500,000 a week toward improvements at Greater Southeast, his company is losing nearly $3 million a month along Southern Avenue.

"I want to work with the city toward achieving results that the city desires in regard to Greater Southeast, and I want to work very hard," Tuft said.

Another group also has a vision for the facility. "My goal is for this to become a medical campus or mall," said Jim Rappaport, chairman of Specialty Hospitals of America, which is working to put together a coalition of companies that would provide short- and long-term care. One of the participants could be Providence Hospital in Northeast Washington.

Specialty Hospitals entered the District in 2005 when it bought a hospital and nursing center on Capitol Hill. The following year, it purchased Hadley Memorial Hospital from Envision. That transaction took less than five months.

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