The Times West Virginian

December 9, 2011

FGH to seek strategic partner

Board hopes to have partner within first half of 2012

Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont General Hospital Board of Directots wants to explore the possibility of a strategic parmer to help position the community hospital for a strong future, officials announced Friday.

An exclusive interview with FGH President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Marquardt will be in Saturday's Times West Virginian, available at newsstands or home delivery by calling 304-367-2525 or 304-367-2527.

"The board's goals are and always have been to preserve the hospital's presence in the community and to make sure it will thrive well into the future," said Mike Martin, FGH board chair. "The decision to seek a partnership is a major step in ensuring that these goals will be met."

Friday's announcement, which is the first of many steps. is only the decision to explore a partnership, and nothing is definite or final. The board's focus is on finding the right parmer for Fairmont General.

"The right parmer will share our vision to grow and strengthen Fairmont General Hospital for the long term, so that we can continue our legacy and commirment of providing quality care right here for the residents of our community," said FGH President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Marquardt.

"We anticipate that the right partner will bring needed investment to the hospital and the community, and will help realize economies of scale in operations," added Marquardt.

Pressures such as declining to flat reimbursement rates, healthcare reform, an increasingly competitive environment and the demand for capital in tensive state of the art medical technologies and information systems have led many community hospitals to seek out a strategic partner.

From 2000-2010, there were almost 600 hospital mergers and acquisitions. More than 100 hospital mergers and acquisitions are projected for 2011, with even more anticipated in 2012,

according to Irving Levin and Associates.

Marquardt added that the hospital board is still in an early stage of this process.

"Nothing is definite at this point," he said. "We are committed to keeping our employees, physicians and community informed throughout this process."

This exploration phase will last into the new year. The hospital board hopes to choose a partner within the first half of 2012.

"This is a moment of opportunity for Fairmont General Hospital," Marquardt said. "We look forward to the hospital's bright future."

Fairmont General Hospital is a private nonprofit community hospital founded in 1939.