Turlock hospital awaits purchase OK

kcarlson@modbee.comJanuary 10, 2014 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken
    E-mail: kcarlson@modbee.com

— Hospital officials still were awaiting state approval of Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s purchase of Emanuel Medical Center as the Turlock hospital showed its new cardiac surgery facilities to the public Friday.

Almost a year ago, Dallas-based Tenet announced it had reached an agreement to purchase the 209-bed nonprofit hospital from the Evangelical Covenant Church. The acquisition first needed to clear a Federal Trade Commission review, which was completed in November, and also must get approval from the state attorney general.

An attorney general spokesman said last month a decision could be issued by Friday. Emanuel’s chief executive officer, John Sigsbury, said Friday afternoon he had not heard from the state.

The deal calls for Tenet to pay $131 million for the Turlock hospital. The two parties anticipate a Jan. 27 date for the ownership change, after which the hospital will be called “Emanuel Medical Center, a campus of Doctors Medical Center,” spokeswoman Pennie Rorex said.

Tenet owns numerous hospitals in California and other states, including Doctors Medical Center of Modesto and Doctors Hospital of Manteca.

On Friday, Emanuel celebrated the completion of new cardiovascular operating suites. The $7.1 million addition features a hybrid cardiac suite, combining an interventional lab and operating room, plus a second cardiac operating room with the latest lighting and patient-monitoring equipment.

Rorex said there are hybrid cardiac suites at only a few hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley.

Emanuel’s is equipped with a “C-Arm” system, which provides high-definition imaging for finding blockages in coronary arteries. A hybrid suite enables doctors performing a catheterization procedure on a heart patient to convert to open surgery without moving the patient to another operating room or hospital.

Ron Evangelista, director of perioperative services, discussed some of the features in the second operating suite. Self-adjusting lights ensure that no shadows are cast on the organs and tissue as the heart surgeon works with instruments.

Guests attending the preview Friday watched a vein-harvesting procedure, which is done for coronary bypass surgery, displayed on screens. Instead of the older process of slicing open a leg to harvest veins, it can be done with a scope inserted through a small incision, with far less pain for the patient, Evangelista said.

Emanuel launched a cardiac care program in 2010, and the 100th heart surgery was recently completed, Sigsbury said. The hospital hopes to start using the new operating suites in February after getting final approvals from state regulators. About 100 heart surgeries could be performed annually, the CEO said.

Surgeons who have done heart procedures at Doctors Medical Center are performing surgeries under an agreement with Emanuel and will continue to do so after the change in ownership.

The $7.1 million project included about $3 million in equipment purchases. Contributions from Emanuel’s Legacy Circle fundraising campaigns covered a third of the total cost, Sigsbury said.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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