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Humphreys eyes another competitor

Anderson CEO seeks purchase

Before he became CEO of Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, Ray Humphreys held the same position at Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville.

In early 2005, Humphreys engineered a $20-million purchase of DRMC’s neighbor, King’s Daughters Hospital.

Humphreys looks to be in acquisition mode again.

On Dec. 1, ARMC filed a notice with the Mississippi Department of Health that intended to purchase Riley Hospital, the other major healthcare facility in Meridian. The filing lists a transaction date of Jan. 1, but ARMC will have to file purchase documents with MDH before that happens, said Don Eicher, MDH’s director of the office of health policy.

“Right now all we have received is the notice,” he said. “We do not have anything else as far as purchase details. We need more detail than what we’ve been furnished.”

Through a spokesperson, Humphreys and other ARMC officials declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations between the two healthcare facilities.

Riley CEO Pamela Tvarkunas had not returned a phone message by the time the Mississippi Business Journal went to press last week.

The largest medical center in East Mississippi, Anderson has 260 rooms and employs 1,500 people.

If Anderson’s bid to buy its in-town competitor is borne out of the same reasoning as DRMC’s purchase of KDH, Humphreys is likely looking to strengthen his new hospital’s foothold in the East Mississippi/West Alabama healthcare market.

That’s what one of his former board members at DRMC said last week.

“The purchase of King’s Daughters Hospital was a very positive thing. We don’t have a community large enough for two hospitals,” said Sam Newsom, who did not serve on DRMC’s board during the purchase negotiations in Greenville. “Ray Humphreys orchestrated this, and he did a good job of it.”

It helped, Newsom said, that KDH was a willing seller. A five-bank consortium financed the $20-million deal back in 2005.

No such details are available for the Anderson/Riley deal.

Upon its purchase of KDH, DRMC conducted all manner of renovations on the building, including renovations to the emergency room, the establishment of a neo-natal intensive care unit and the hiring of two cardiovascular surgeons for the new heart hospital.

Newsom said in the five years since the deal, it’s been “generally accepted” that it was a wise move for DRMC and for Greenville.

Humphreys

Humphreys

“Our plans are to build a new hospital, but the hospital is not about the building. It’s about changing how we deliver medicine and how we deliver medical care. We want to become more of a regional delivery because technology is so expensive. We’re in area about center between Jackson and Little Rock, and we’re ideally suited to serve that area now.

“Delta Regional buying King’s Daughters was the initial step in that,” Newsom continued. “We could not have progressed without us having one central hospital. That makes a lot more sense for a town like Greenville rather than dividing up the hospital business.”

Newsom said DRMC has adequately serviced its debt since the deal, and has turned a profit every month since.

“We’re very much in the black,” he said. “Financially it was a good move because a county-owned hospital can and is affording the debt and still returning a profit.”

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