Alabaster hospital to remain under Baptist control

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Shelby Baptist Medical Center will remain a locally owned faith-based hospital, with the announcement that its parent organization, Baptist Health System, has nixed all plans of a possible sale or merger.

BHS trustees declared their intentions to remain independent and announced the firing of chief executive officer Dennis Hall at a weekend press conference.

Hall’s departure is joined by the resignations of five members of the 21-member board of trustees, including chairman Robert &uot;Bobby&uot; Keith Jr.

BHS had previously announced it intended to &uot;pursue a relationship&uot; with Triad Hospitals Inc., a for-profit company based in Texas.

Hall and Keith had been proponents of a change in the system’s structure in order to boost capital for future growth and improvements.

The board had considered several options including possible merger, reorganization, capital partnership and outright sale.

But the board ended all such discussions Saturday, including talks of a venture with University of Alabama at Birmingham.

&uot;The trustees simply do not believe that we have to give up control of BHS for our hospitals or the system to prosper,&uot; said trustee Gary Furr, according to a press release distributed after the meeting.

&uot;We can expand our mission without having to forfeit control of our organization in any way. The majority of the board believes we have a vibrant system that can &045; and will &045; continue to prosper as a faith-based, not-for-profit organization.&uot;

The board first began exploring its options about a year and a half ago.

Although the freshly departed Hall and Keith were concerned about the system’s ability to produce enough capital to meet growing community needs, the board remains confident with the financial health of BHS.

Officials said BHS has a strong market share and strong operating margins and liquidity ratios.

According to the press release, &uot;Board members believe BHS is uniquely positioned to pursue additional expansion of its faith-based mission through the future integration of additional health care providers into its system throughout Alabama.&uot;

BHS is the state’s largest healthcare system and owns 10 hospitals in Birmingham and north Alabama.

It was founded in 1922 by a group of local Baptist congregations.

In addition to rededicating the system to its &uot;Christ-centered&uot; mission, the board of trustees elected Dr. Michael Drummond as chairman of the board and announced William Hynson to act as the system’s senior manager until a new CEO can be found.

Hynson currently serves as executive vice president of hospital operations.

Dr. Carol Johnson, chief medical officer at Baptist Shelby, said the new changes will benefit Baptist Shelby and the entire system.

&uot;The overwhelming majority of our medical staffs, our nurses and our employees at all the system hospitals strongly support the board for the difficult decisions it made today,&uot; Johnson said, according to the release.

&uot;This is good news for BHS, good news for Shelby County and it’s good news for Alabama.&uot;

Attempts to reach Dr. Michael Drummond for this story were unsuccessful.

Officials at Baptist Medical Center Shelby directed all questions to corporate media relations