Hospital sale finalized to new owners

After a little over a year of breaking and often bad news for the Hillsboro Community Hospital, Monday, Dec. 9, became the day of good news for the rural hospital.

The Hillsboro City Council met for a special meeting at noon in order to consider the resolution and items related to the anticipated sale of the Hillsboro Community Hospital.

On Nov. 14, a bankruptcy court judge in Wichita approved the sale of the hospital to the Rural Hospital Group. The hospital had filed for bankruptcy in January of this year.

In Monday’s city council meeting, all of the council members were present, as well as Mayor Lou Thurston, City Administrator Larry Paine and Lawyer Tyler Heffron of Tripplett Woolf Garretson, LLC.

Heffron explained that the Public Building Commission needed to approve a lease document, since the new owners would need to take out an additional mortgage in order to pay for the hospital. He answered questions and discussed the paperwork with the council members, who all approved the resolution.

Later in the day, the three partners who make up the Rural Hospital Group, Larry Arthur, Dennis Davis and Trent Skaggs, completed the paperwork needed to finalize the sale of the hospital.

“We just got off a closing call with all the attorneys, the bank and the trustee, Brent King, who did a tremendous job. All of them did so much work to keep the hospital going. We are just so thrilled that we are the new owners of Hillsboro Community Hospital. We were able to come to the table with $1 million of our money for working capital and the financing for the purchase, which was roughly $7.5 million dollars,” Arthur said.

All three men sounded excited and kept thanking everyone who played a role in keeping the hospital going.

“The Bank of Hays, the city, the [Public] Building Commission—all of them have done a really great job at keeping the hospital operational and functional at this point. They kept it going to the point where we could put together a financing package that would allow us to purchase the hospital” Arthur said.

The men also mentioned the USDA of Kansas as an instrumental party in the original financing of the new hospital as well as the additional financing.

“Senator Jerry Moran has always been a big supporter of the hospital as well. He deserves credit for all of his activity with it,” Arthur said. “We also want to thank the mayor and Larry Paine as well, who both really stood up for the hospital as well. This thing would not have happened if everybody had not pulled on the same end of the rope. Again, it is great to see all of the different players come together.”

Even in the midst of the transitions, the hospital seemed to do well, which is encouraging for the three partners.

“The hospital has actually been really full for the last week and a half. That says something about the commitment of the community to the hospital to keep it going and use the hospital. A lot of rural hospitals are vacant these days,” Arthur said. “We wouldn’t have spent one million dollars of our own money if we didn’t think the hospital was worth it.”

The new owners plan to hold an open house in the near future. They will also be planning to announce a new CEO, but for now, the interim CEO is Bill May.

May said he was thrilled to be involved with the hospital and the community of Hillsboro.

The Chapter 11 process isn’t easy. The hospital staff is to be commended for their dedication and commitment not only to the hospital but to the community,” he said.

Davis, the Chief Legal Officer of Hillsboro Hospital LLC and the Rural Hospital Groups summed it up well for all of the partners in his statement.

Our company looks forward to serving and working with the people in and around Hillsboro. Our priority is to offer the highest quality healthcare attainable. I am excited about the transaction and what it will mean to the long-term survivability of the Hillsboro Hospital,” said Davis.

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