The Wyoming Medical Center on Tuesday announced details of a proposed agreement to be acquired by Banner Health -- one of the nation's largest multi-state nonprofit health care systems, according to news releases from the hospital and Natrona County.

“We’re excited to share the proposed details of how we can bring together two market-leading and highly-respected healthcare organizations to provide even stronger regional, high-quality healthcare to our patients and the people of Wyoming,” the hospital's President and CEO Michele Chulick said in a news release.

Earlier this year, the WMC's board of directors announced it signed a non-binding letter of intent with Banner. Since then, the hospital, Banner Health and Natrona County conducted due diligence to fully determine the specifics of a potential agreement.

Natrona County is a key player because it owns the buildings, land and equipment leased by the nonprofit Wyoming Medical Center, Inc., most of which is in the 1200 and 1300 blocks of East Second and East Third streets.

An agreement separate from the one with the WMC and Banner Health would allow Banner to buy those assets from the county -- pending approval by the Natrona County Commission -- for $157 million: $120 million for investment in the county's future, paying off about $50 million in hospital revenue bond debt, and a one-time offering to the WMC Foundation.

The news releases outlined the following probable agreements:

  • Banner would invest at least $100 million in the Wyoming Medical Center during the next 10 years for the facilities, technology, programs, people and operations.
  • Banner would commit $220 million in initial funding to the separate WMC Foundation to support the hospital and health care in Natrona County.
  • The formation of an advisory board at the Wyoming Medical Center composed of community leaders and physicians nominated by the hospital. The advisory board will focus on the future of health care in Wyoming.
  • The Wyoming Medical Center will keep its name, and later co-brand with Banner Health.
  • Patients will be able to receive the same care from their physicians.

On a larger scale, Banner will offer the following:

  • The Wyoming Medical Center will continue to provide care for all patients regardless of their ability to pay. In addition to Banner's charity care, which has been a requirement of the Wyoming Medical Center, the hospital will provide care for those who are involuntarily committed and for prisoners.
  • Banner will expand health care access to the community region and state with emergency care, Level II trauma services, women health cardiology, primary care, neurology, orthopedics, cancer care and other specialties.
  • Expand the delivery of medical services in rural areas, and develop an integrated care network with the three other hospitals it has in the state: Platte County Memorial Hospital in Wheatland, Community Hospital in Torrington, and the Washakie Medical Center in Worland.
  • Besides these three hospitals, Banner will work with its other facilities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, California and Nebraska in telehealth, transport services, physician recruitment, clinical protocols and give the Wyoming Medical Center access to Banner's supply chain and equipment purchasing network.

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The nonprofit Wyoming Medical Center Inc., was formed in 1986.

Until then, it was known as the Memorial Hospital of Natrona County, which was owned and operated by Natrona County. After the creation of the WMC, the county continued to own the physical plant of the hospital. The WMC leases the property from the county to perform health care. The WMC's rent, in effect, is to maintain the value of the physical plant and provide care for the indigent and prisoners at the county jail.

A five-member board of trustees -- called the Memorial Hospital of Natrona County -- is appointed by the Natrona County Commission and oversees the WMC's lease of the county's property.

 

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