(Updated 8:55 p.m.) More than a week after regulators gave the thumbs up to Texas-based Tenet Corporation’s takeover of Waterbury Hospital, the private hospital chain announced it was abandoning plans to purchase Waterbury and four other Connecticut hospitals.
In a statement, Tenet said it respects the role of state regulators, “Nonetheless, the extensive list of proposed conditions to be imposed on the Waterbury Hospital transaction, which is only the first of four transactions for which we’ve made applications, has led us to conclude that the approach to regulatory oversight in Connecticut would not enable Tenet to operate the hospitals successfully for the benefit of all stakeholders. As a result, today we informed the Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) and the Attorney General that we are withdrawing our applications to acquire Waterbury Hospital, Saint Mary’s Hospital, Bristol Hospital and Eastern Connecticut Health Network.”
In a letter to Attorney General George Jepsen and Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen, Tenet Healthcare Corporation’s legal counsel Collin Baron expressed the gratitude for all the hard work that went into the negotiations.
“Tenet had hopes that its expertise and financial resources could ensure the long-term viability of the hospitals that it intended to acquire for the benefit of the communities they serve,” Baron wrote his letter. “Tenet regrets that this is no longer possible.”
Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said Tenet’s actions show “it was never serious about addressing the healthcare needs of the people of Connecticut.”
But he said having gone through the process the hospitals and Connecticut has learned they can work together to engage in a process that will help the hospitals survive and thrive in their communities.
Waterbury Hospital President and CEO Darlene Stromstad said the conditions being placed upon the Tenet purchase were “clearly one obstacle too many.”
Waterbury Hospital was the first of four applications Tenet had pending with the Office of Health Care Access and Jepsen. The others were Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Bristol Hospital, and Eastern Connecticut Health Network, which operates Rockville General and Manchester Memorial Hospital.
Jepsen called the decision by Tenet “unfortunate.”
“Based on conversations my office has had subsequent to the release of our proposed final decision last week, I do not believe that the conditions proposed by my office — which focused on preserving and safeguarding the assets of the sale for healthcare purposes and not the day-to-day operation of the for-profit hospital going forward — were a contributing factor in Tenet’s decision,” Jepsen said. “This decision raises substantial and immediate questions about the future of healthcare delivery in some of our communities. Those questions deserve the closest attention of policymakers at the local and state levels.”
It’s unclear what will happen to the cash-strapped hospitals, which were depending on the capital the purchase would have provided.
Some of the conditions imposed by regulators were unacceptable to Tenet. The Office of Health Care Access imposed 47 conditions regarding hospital operations and Jepsen’s office imposed 21 regarding Waterbury Hospital’s charitable foundation.