COLUMBIA — On Feb. 23 The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System (CSA Health System) signed a nonbinding Letter of Intent to purchase substantially all of the assets of the Columbia-CSA/HS Greater Columbia Area Healthcare System. The health care system is a 50/50 partnership of affiliates of the CSA Health System and HCA — The Health Care Company. Terms of the transaction between CSA and HCA were not disclosed.
This purchase will include the existing assets of Providence Hospital and Providence Hospital Northeast. Following completion of the transaction, both hospitals will be owned by a non-profit, tax-exempt organization of which the CSA Health System will be the sole member. The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine will continue as the religious sponsor of the new entity as they have been since they founded Providence in 1938.
Sister Judith Ann Karam, president and chief executive office of the CSA Health System, made the announcement. “We look forward to growing our Christian-based health care mission in South Carolina, which includes the continuation of providing the community with quality health care,” she said.
“Because of the constantly changing nature of health care, we have and always will examine the best means to provide for the health and human service needs of the communities of which we serve,” said Sister Nancy Hendershot, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. “This year our congregation is celebrating 150 years of providing quality health and human services in the United States, and we are looking forward to continuing that commitment.”
The CSA Health System entered into three 50/50 joint venture partnerships in 1995 with HCA, at that time named Columbia/HCA, one in South Carolina and two in Ohio. Due to changes in the strategic direction and restructuring of HCA, the CSA Health System and HCA announced their intention in 1999 to separate from the joint ownership of all three partnerships.
Bishop Robert J. Baker congratulated the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine on the announcement.
“The sisters have been among the leaders in health care service in our diocese since 1938 and have brought a unique and irreplaceable ministry to their work. It is the healing and compassionate presence of Christ that they instill in all aspects of their service,” he said. “This extension of service can only bring a greater dimension of Christian compassion, care, and healing to the greater Columbia area and to the Diocese of Charleston, for which we are truly grateful.”
“Throughout all of our partnerships, including South Carolina, HCA agreed to maintain our historical commitment to care for the underserved and respect our mission and faith obligations that ensured the continuation of each of the hospitals as Catholic health care providers,” said Sister Mary Patricia Barrett, vice president of mission and ministries services for and chairperson of the CSA Health System Board of Trustees.
The Providence hospitals were strengthened by management practices and operating systems that were implemented by the partnership during the past five years. According to the CSA Health System, many of these practices and operating systems will remain in place after the CSA Health System assumes 100 percent control.
Providence Hospital in Columbia is comprised of Providence Hospital/Providence Heart Institute, with 247 beds and Providence Hospital Northeast with 46 beds and a skilled nursing unit with 18 beds.
Providence Heart Institute has developed its reputation as a major cardiac referral center for the state since the service began in 1974. The hospital will soon begin a multimission expansion of the Heart Institute. Currently the hospital performs more than 1,000 general heart surgeries and 6,000 cardiac catheterizations annually.
“The CSA Health System is committed to support the already established strategic initiatives which will keep Providence Hospital and Providence Hospital Northeast on the cutting edge of health care advancement,” said Sister Karam. “We look forward in the near future to breaking ground on our new $30 million renovation and expansion of our main campus. This will be a tremendous benefit to our patients, and it represents our commitment to South Carolina in a very tangible way.”
“We entered the partnerships with HCA five years ago to help ensure that we could not only preserve Catholic health care, but also to do more for the communities we serve. From the proceeds of our 1995 sale of 50 percent interest in Providence Hospital to HCA, we established the Sister of Charity Foundation of South Carolina to address critical dimensions of poverty in South Carolina. It is our desire to extend our service to meet the additional unmet needs of the community. In its five-year existence, the foundation, whose present resources amount to $100 million, has made over $16 million in grants to local organizations addressing the root causes of poverty throughout the state,” said Sister Hendershot, who is also a trustee of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.
Under the pending agreement, the current employees and staff of the Providence Hospitals will become employees of a new CSA entity. Stephen A. Purves, president and CEO of Providence Hospital/Providence Heart Institute and Providence Hospital Northeast, will continue in his role.
“This will allow us to focus on the single culture and governance structure,” said Purves. “Our reputation of medical excellence and compassionate care is well known throughout the state and beyond. Our distinguished medical staff and our outstanding employees will continue to provide the highest level of quality care for all our patients, regardless of their ability to pay.”
The physicians who practice at Providence Hospital welcome the return of complete ownership by the sisters. “They have our full support. We remain committed to ensuring that our patients receive the quality health care of which Providence is known,” said Dr. Charlie Devlin, chief of medical staff at Providence Hospital.
“We believe we have some of the finest physicians, administrators, and support personnel in the country at Providence. These care givers have a tremendous history with us, and we look forward to their ongoing support and their dedication to excellence,” said Sister Karam.
“The sisters unwavering dedication to serving the needs of the South Carolina community since 1938 has long been recognized and appreciated, and we will further benefit from their continued commitment,” said John Folsom, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Columbia-CSA Health System Partnership.
At present the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine have 21 separate ministries. The CSA Health System, established in 1982, is the parent organization for the sister’s institutional health and human service ministries, including Healthy Learners, which provides needed services to the children of low income families across the Midlands.