Public hearing held on hospital sale

SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) — A public hearing was held Thursday on the proposed sale of Sharon Regional Health System to Community Health Systems of Nashville.

The hospital is classified as a non-profit right now, but the sale to CHS, which bought the former Forum Health and its local hospitals, would make Sharon Regional a for-profit facility. Because of the for-profit status, a public hearing must be held, allowing people the chance to voice any issues or concerns.

Five people addressed the crowd on Thursday, including Joanne Jofery, who wants the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office to investigate some things, including the length of time it took for negotiations between CHS and the nurses union at Northside Hospital.

“I’m not saying that I’m opposed to it. I’m just saying I think everyone is painting a nice rosy picture here and all I want to do is get beneath the veneer and find out whether we’re on canvas, wood or concrete,” Jofery said.

Hospital CEO John Janoso said the change to a for-profit hospital won’t cost patients anything and the community could potentially benefit from the change.

“The only difference we’ll see is that the community will get a taxable revenue base versus us currently, we don’t pay taxes. So in essence, for the communities around us, it’s good news and they’ll have a new revenue stream. For us, it’s inconsequential on how we deliver care. It should have no impact on our cost structure whatsoever,” Janoso said.

Community Health Systems representatives said they plan to invest $75 million into Sharon Regional over the next five years. 

The deal has been endorsed by Mercer County Commissioners.

“Those jobs would be critically missed if something would happen so the Mercer County Commissioners have gone on record and sent a letter to the attorney general,” said Commissioner Matt McConnell.

Thursday’s hearing was the first step in finalizing the sale. The Attorney General’s Office will be collecting comments, questions and concerns through Feb. 18. A formal hearing is scheduled for Feb. 28, where a decision will be made.

The Attorney General’s office said their primary concern is ensuring that such a sale would be  ”fair and in the best interest of the public.”

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