$1.2 million offered for hospital

A company has made a $1.2 million offer for the former Southwest Regional Medical Center.
Oglethorpe, Inc. of Tampa, Florida would like to use the former hospital for a 60-100 bed behavioral health facility, treating those with addiction and mental health issues.
In addition to the purchase price, Oglethorpe estimates that $1 million will have to be spent on renovation at the facility.
Once open, Oglethorpe estimates that approximately 250 people will be employed with an annual payroll approaching $12 million.
Oglethorpe already operates three other hospitals in Ohio, and seven other facilities in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
Since the property is in receivership, Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler must approve the sale.
The Village of Georgetown also had to vote to amend its zoning ordnance to accommodate the business, which it did Sept. 21.
Following a public hearing where Oglethorpe Ohio Operations Director Patrick Tracy answered questions about the company’s operations, council voted 3-2 to allow the zoning change.
Council members Susan Bean, Dave Guenther and Ginny Colwell voted yes, with members Kelly Cornette and Kelley Campbell voting no.
Council member Wade Highlander was absent.
The special council meeting ended with everyone thinking that council had voted down the proposal, because the ordinance called for a 2/3 majority to pass as an emergency.
The meeting ended with a special meeting set for next week, however Village Solicitor Joe Braun determined after further research that the vote was valid.
In an e-mail to The Brown County Press, Braun said that “The Ordinance was presented as an emergency for (Councils’) consideration. Five members of Council voted to suspend the rules.  By suspending the rules, the Ordinance did not need multiple readings to go into effect.
Then, Council voted to pass it as an emergency and the vote was 3-2.  It needed 5 votes to pass as an emergency. As such, it DID pass, but not as an emergency.  As a result of not passing the ordinance as an emergency, it passed and simply goes into effect in 30 days versus immediately upon passage.”
Therefore, the way is cleared for the hospital to reopen as a behavioral health facility following the approval of Gusweiler.
“I am exited for this process to move forward and for the employment opportunities that could be coming to the village of Georgetown as well as the opportunity for treatment that many people desperately need,” said Georgetown Mayor Dale Cahall.
“That type of payroll is very exciting to hear.  We’ve taken it on the chin the past four or five years with the former Southwest Regional Medical Center and Meadowwood Nursing Facility closing.  We’ve had a net job loss of about 400 people over the past several years.”
Cahall said that the income taxes from a $12 million payroll will solve a lot of problems for the village.
“We are running ourselves ragged with EMS runs.  We will have well over 1000 runs this year.  The closing of our hospital has put a real strain on our volunteers,” Cahall said.
“We will probably have to go to some sort of paid life squad in the near future.  So the dollars that would come from the additional payroll tax from a new business would solve a lot of problems.”
Tracy said that the hospital is a voluntary stay facility and would not discharge patients without a plan for followup care and a destination.
“This will not be a ‘treat and street’ situation by any means,” Tracy said at the meeting.
He added that the hospital staff will be trained to handle any patient needs and that security will not be an issue.
Tracy said that he was very pleased with his experience in Brown County so far.
“I think there is a real need for a hospital like ours in a small community like this.  The people we have met have been really supportive of the idea,” Patrick said after the meeting.
When asked what made the former hospital so attractive, Tracy said “It had only been closed for two years and a lot of the former staff is probably still in the area, so we don’t have to go out and find a full staff from the beginning.”
Tracy added that he and the company were looking forward to being good neighbors.
“I would like to thank all the people we have been involved with so far.  We would like to show the people of Georgetown that we are a good partner in the community,” Tracy said.
In addition to Gusweiler’s approval, the proposed contract will not close until October 21.
Then, renovations to the building must be completed, state inspections passed and other hurdles overcome before the doors are open.
At press time, there was no estimate on when the first patients would begin to be treated at the facility.