Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong failed to turn around Verity Health: 7 things to know about where the system stands now


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El Segundo, Calif.-based Verity Health filed for bankruptcy in August, just 13 months after billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, bought a majority stake in its management company with a promise to revitalize the health system.

Here are seven things to know about Verity Health’s financial situation.

1. The health system filed for bankruptcy Aug. 31. It secured a $185 million loan to remain operational during the bankruptcy, which CEO Richard Adcock told Reuters could last at least a few years.

2. Verity is still seeking a buyer for all or some of the hospitals. Mr. Adcock told Reuters the system has been contacted by more than 100 potential buyers since July 9, when it announced it was exploring strategic options due to nearly $500 million in long-term debt. “We are exploring a number of options to deleverage our balance sheet and address challenges our hospitals face after a decade of deferred maintenance, poor payer contracts and increasing costs,” said Mr. Adcock.

3. The system’s financial issues pre-date Dr. Soon-Shiong’s investment but have not improved since. Mr. Adcock told Reuters that Verity has been hemorrhaging $175 million per year on cash flow basis. Verity has operated at a loss for at the least the past three years. Executives had planned to break even in the 12 months ended June 2018, however, the system reported its operating performance compared to the budget was unfavorable by $116 million, according to a report from Politico. In the 12 months ended June 2017, the system saw losses of $37 million, and the year prior marked nearly $200 million in operating losses.

4. Prior to filing for bankruptcy, Verity stopped all capital improvement projectsPolitico reported in the same article. However, the system needs millions of dollars in updates to meet California’s seismic standards by 2019. Approximately 94 percent of California’s hospitals already comply with this major legal requirement, according to the report. Verity Health needed an estimated $66 million in improvements. Since November, the system has put $5.1 million toward compliance. If Verity does not meet deadlines for compliance in 2019, its hospitals can no longer be used for patient care.

5. The health system’s spending on charity care declined 28 percent at five of its six hospitals in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period the year prior. The sixth hospital reported an error in its financials. Dr. Soon-Shiong updated the health system’s financial assistance policy in December to exclude services from more than 50 hospital departments, according to Politico. Preliminary data from the second quarter of 2018 suggests this trend has continued.

6. The health system is spending millions on an Allscripts EHR implementation. Dr. Soon-Shiong served as interim CEO of Verity in 2017, during which the system signed a contract to implement a new Allscripts Sunrise EHR by 2019. Verity spent $12.8 million on the EHR through June, according to Politico. Sources told Politico the final cost could range from $20 million to $100 million.

7. The EHR investment faces scrutiny due to Dr. Soon-Shiong’s close ties to Allscripts. Dr. Soon-Shiong bought a $100 million stake in Allscripts in 2015, and Allscripts had a $200 million stake in NantHealth, his precision medicine company, Politico reported. Allscripts and NantHealth also had an agreement to work together to promote precision medicine technology. This agreement was restructured in 2017, when the value of NantHealth’s stock was down, according to the report. Allscripts returned NantHealth’s stock, and in return, NantHealth transferred ownership of some of its software to Allscripts and agreed to deliver $95 million worth of business to the EHR vendor. Allscripts President Rick Poulton told Politico the Verity Health EHR deal does not count against the $95 million in promised business, and the health system had already been considering Allscripts before Dr. Soon-Shiong assumed leadership.



6-hospital Verity Health files for bankruptcy


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El Segundo, Calif.-based Verity Health, which operates six hospitals in Northern and Southern California and maintains ties to billionaire former surgeon Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, filed for bankruptcy Aug. 31, Reuters reports.

Verity Health CEO Richard Adcock told Reuters he expects the system to remain in bankruptcy protection for at least a few years as it restructures and continues working with potential buyers.

The bankruptcy announcement comes on the heels of several deals that left the system with more than $1 billion in pension liabilities and bond debt. Verity Health reportedly secured a $185 million loan to remain operational.

Mr. Adcock added the system has been losing nearly $175 million per year on a cash flow basis.

In July, Verity Health revealed it is examining all strategic options, including a sale, of some or all of its hospitals. Mr. Adcock told Reuters the system has received a number of offers, including from several large national hospital operators.

Dr. Soon-Shiong, who has founded and sold several biotech companies and recently purchased the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers for $500 million, acquired Verity Health’s management company in 2017. At the time, he said his goal was to revitalize the health system, which has come to employ 6,000-plus people as of 2017.

Mr. Adcock said the health system is re-examining all of its contracts, including the management deal with Dr. Soon-Shiong, Reuters reports.


Tenet to close 232-bed Phoenix hospital


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Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare will close Abrazo Maryvale Campus, a 232-bed hospital in Phoenix, by the end of the year.

The hospital is closing primarily because of dwindling patient volumes, said Frank Molinaro, market CEO for Abrazo Community Health Network, which encompasses six acute care hospitals.

“Over the past several years Abrazo Maryvale has experienced a significant decline in community demand for its services,” said Mr. Molinaro. “The Abrazo Community Health Network’s top priority is delivering high-quality, cost-effective care to residents of the greater Phoenix area, and we are properly allocating our resources to meet our patients’ and our communities’ healthcare needs.”

Although the hospital will remain open until Dec. 18, it will no longer admit patients after Dec. 1. “We will assist patients and their physicians in transitioning their care to other Abrazo Network facilities or the healthcare provider of their choice,” said Mr. Molinaro.

Officials said the closure of Abrazo Maryvale should not impact the community’s access to care, as there are four acute care hospitals and 11 urgent care centers within the 6-mile area surrounding Abrazo Maryvale.

The closure of the hospital will affect around 300 employees. All Abrazo Maryvale employees who are in good standing will receive priority for open positions within Abrazo Community Health Network and its affiliated partners, said Mr. Molinaro.

Tenet, Abrazo Maryvale’s parent company, is exploring a number of strategic options, including the sale of assets, divisions or the entire company. The 77-hospital chain ended the second quarter of this year with a net loss of $56 million, compared to a net loss of $44 million in the same period of the year prior. Tenet will release its earnings for the third quarter in November.