published Friday, October 25th, 2013

Hutcheson won't say who's interested in taking over management

Hutcheson Medical Center
Hutcheson Medical Center
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Proposals to manage Hutcheson Medical Center were due at 2 p.m. Thursday.

But the suspense isn't over for employees and others eager to see who wants to run the struggling Fort Oglethorpe hospital, which is owned by Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties.

Hutcheson officials wouldn't say Thursday which health care organizations submitted proposals, or even how many were submitted.

"More than one proposal was received," said Nathalie Strickland, a Waterhouse Public Relations employee hired by Hutcheson to handle media inquiries. "In order to maintain the integrity of the competitive bid and negotiation process, the details will remain confidential for now."

The proposals were submitted to Ken Conner, a certified public accountant at Decosimo CPAs in Chattanooga who previously served for 12 years as chief financial officer of Erlanger Health System.

"I don't want [Hutcheson] being disadvantaged because they are negotiating in public," Conner said.

Conner did say that he reached out to more than 20 organizations to let them know that Hutcheson had issued a Sept. 10 request for proposals (RFP) to manage the hospital.

"Some got RFPs, some asked questions, some opted out," he said.

Two groups toured Hutcheson, he said.

"The tours went well," Conner said.

Conner expects to present the proposals to the hospital's governing board at its meeting Wednesday night. The board likely will go into closed session.

If the board votes, then the proposals will become public record. Under the Georgia Open Records Act, pending proposals aren't required to be disclosed until the final award of the contract is made, the project is abandoned, or the agency takes a public vote -- whichever comes first.

Hutcheson had been managed by Erlanger since April 2011, but Hutcheson's board announced in August it was cutting ties with Erlanger.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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