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Authority again takes no action to sell hospital

The McDuffie County Hospital Authority approved a contract for a new patient-survey firm and the purchase of two bone saws for almost $38,000 Monday night.

But after meeting behind closed doors for the third time in less than a month, it reached no decision on an offer by Augusta-based University Health Care System to purchase the McDuffie Regional Medical Center, which continues to experience financial difficulties.

Chief Financial Officer Pat Parris told the board that the hospital's loss for the fiscal year to date totals $410,813, compared with $304,519 in the same period last fiscal year.

Administrator Doug Keir said the hospital got a 48 percent discount on the purchase of the two bone saws, which will replace two others that are 15 and 16 years old. The saws will cost a total of $37,619.

The board also agreed to a contract with Health Stream Research to take over its patient-satisfaction surveys.

Keir had said at last month's regular board meeting that hospital executives were not satisfied with the current contractor, Avatar. He noted that Health Stream does telephone surveys, which yield better responses than Avatar's paper surveys.

Last month, some board members expressed concern over approving a new contract in light of University's offer, and Keir was asked to negotiate with the company on the consequences of severing the contract if the purchase is approved.

He said Monday that the penalties for cancellation had been renegotiated, to $5,000 from $7,200 the first year, to $3,500 from $4,800 the second and to $2,000 from $2,400 the third. The board approved the contract for $24,443 annually.

Members then deliberated in executive session for more than an hour on the purchase offer. Authority chairman Bill Doupe said after the meeting that the board is taking its responsibilities seriously.

"At the end of the day, everybody here is committed to keeping health care in McDuffie County," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, May 26, 2011

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