Shands chosen to operate Ocala's Munroe Regional


FILE PHOTO - Munroe Regional Medical Center is shown in 2012. MRMC is Marion County's public hospital.

Alan Youngblood/Ocala Star-Banner
Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 6:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 6:32 p.m.

UF&Shands will extend its reach in Marion County as a partner to Health Management Associates after trustees of Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala voted to have Shands run the hospital.

Munroe Regional's Strategic Options Work Group chose Shands/Health Management Associates to operate the 421-bed hospital after an 18-month search.

HMA was chosen in part because it made the largest financial offer, at $214.2 million, about $31 million higher than that of competitor Duke LifePoint Healthcare. HMA/Shands would run the hospital for the next 40 years.

According to Dr. David Guzick, president of the UF&Shands Health System and senior vice president for health affairs, Shands running Munroe does not signify a big change for Shands' clinical practice.

“We currently have 3,000 admissions from Marion, and half are on Medicaid or uninsured. This far exceeds the number of Medicaid patients at Munroe,” Guzick said. “So we are already seeing an excess share of indigent patients. The relationship with HMA ensures that continues.”

Guzick added that Shands would apply the same model that it currently uses with the other 22 hospitals in Florida that HMA runs: Shands essentially has joint protocols with these hospitals to provide expert care for complicated conditions such as stroke or cardiovascular disease.

Shands has partnered with HMA since 2010, when HMA bought Shands' three rural hospitals in Live Oak, Starke and Lake Shore.

Guzick said that Shands “helps (HMA) as much as we can to manage patients in communities. ... That's the model we would apply with Munroe.”

“We've forged excellent relationships with rank-and-file physicians there and do physician consultations already,” he continued, adding that Shands has only a secondary role in the partnership.

“It isn't about the Shands brand; it's really about growing the Munroe brand,” Guzick said, adding that HMA's main interest is serving the Ocala community — which is bound to build some local competition, with Ocala Regional Hospital across the street from Munroe.

Munroe is owned by the Marion County Hospital District and overseen by seven Marion County Commission-appointed trustees. A ballot measure on property tax support failed in November, leading Munroe to decide to lease the hospital to keep it competitive.

At the meeting Thursday, which was held in the auxiliary room of Munroe Regional, Shands CEO Tim Goldfarb also committed Shands to up to a 20 percent stake in the purchase of Munroe.

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

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