Survival prospectsWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
This past May, ProMedica Health System announced it had signed an agreement to bring St. Luke’s Hospital into its system. ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra and St. Luke’s President and CEO, Dan Wakeman, made optimistic statements and planned to have the deal completed that summer.
But as we near another spring, that merger has been delayed. The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to prevent the merger under competition laws. In a market with a tremendously strong and successful competitor in Mercy, plus the University of Toledo Medical Center, that makes little sense, but federal government rarely relies on sense when interfering with business progress.
Just days after President Barack Obama stood before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and to improve his administration’s relationship with business, the FTC will force a preliminary injunction hearing in South Florida. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine supports the FTC’s hindering, a less than encouraging start to his term in office.
Gov. John Kasich, during his Feb. 7 Rotary Club talk in Toledo, criticized the FTC’s efforts to block the merger, so some parts of Columbus understand the importance of this merger.
As a member of ProMedica’s advocacy and government relations committee, I have seen firsthand the excitement about the potential St. Luke’s offers in terms of its people, technology and community relationships.
Jamie Black, president of the St. Luke’s Hospital board of trustees, said in a written statement, “If the [FTC] can dismantle the St. Luke’s-ProMedica partnership, it will achieve what it seeks to prevent: It will reduce health care competition in metro Toledo from four to three hospital systems because in the long run St. Luke’s will not survive without ProMedica.
“As St. Luke’s board members, we are obligated to do what is best for the institution and all who rely on it for care and employment. Through our partnership with ProMedica, we can continue to put patients first — always.”
There is no issue with a merger as significant as this one being looked at carefully to make sure both parties and the community benefit. But as Black wrote, “We have been surprised by the [FTC’s] apparent failure to consider circumstances that are unique to competition among hospitals in the Toledo market before it decided to challenge the transaction. From the millions of pages of documents we have provided, the FTC has built a case around pieces of information that are misleading or taken out of context.”
The FTC has its job to do, and obviously takes its mission seriously. But its aggressive and unwarranted efforts to stop the ProMedica/St. Luke’s joinder are misguided and harmful to the future survival prospects for St. Luke’s — and its patients.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.