Hamilton County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that will allow Erlanger Health System to move forward in transitioning from a government entity to a private, nonprofit corporation.
The vote took place during a Wednesday commission meeting, where Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger thanked the Erlanger board and the attorneys who represented the county in the eight-month negotiation process of constructing the resolution.
The resolution contains a "mission agreement" with 13 covenants that will govern the new nonprofit organization, Erlanger Health, once it becomes private and is therefore no longer subject to the sunshine laws that currently provide a window into the health system's finances and operations.
Some of those covenants include commitments to maintain the historic mission of Erlanger as a teaching hospital, regional referral center and safety-net provider and to provide charity care to area residents "consistent with similarly situated tax-exempt safety net providers in Tennessee," such as the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
An Oversight Monitor Board will ensure that Erlanger upholds the covenants for 15 years after the transition is complete.
Erlanger is the Chattanooga region's largest hospital and only safety-net provider. The health system brings in more than $1 billion net revenue annually and is the county's largest employer.
This is a developing story. Stay with the Times Free Press for updates.