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Buyer appoints hospital executive

Barts (The Spokesman-Review)
Barts (The Spokesman-Review)

Dennis Barts to head Deaconess after sale

Community Health Systems has appointed Dennis Barts as chief executive officer of Deaconess Medical Center in anticipation of finalizing its acquisition of the hospital this fall. Barts has 20 years experience in hospital management and development. He comes to Spokane from Ponca City Medical Center in Oklahoma.

Community Health credits him with boosting that hospital’s patient admissions and surgery numbers, while eliminating outside contract labor and curbing staff turnover. Though Barts will be at the hospital, he will not have any involvement in the day-to-day operations until the sale is complete.

State regulators are reviewing Community Health’s $156 million proposal to buy the assets of Empire Health Services, the financially troubled nonprofit that operates Deaconess along with Valley Hospital and Medical Center.

Barts has visited Spokane twice and met with the Deaconess management team, along with hospital staff.

The Washington state attorney general’s office is expected to issue a fairness opinion on the sale in August. The Washington state Department of Health will then rule on the sale proposal.

Public hearings in Spokane last month leaned heavily in favor of the transaction, though many of those commenting sought assurances that Community Health would boost charity care at the hospitals.

Approximately $84 million in proceeds left over after settling debts would be put into a new charitable foundation focused on local health care needs.