Terre Haute and the surrounding Wabash Valley need accessible, affordable and effective healthcare.

The community ranks in the lower quarter to lower third among others in Indiana for its health and well-being.

That is why it is so important that this week’s acquisition of one Terre Haute hospital by another Terre Haute hospital group succeeds in delivering that accessible, affordable and effective health care.

On Wednesday, Terre Haute-based Union Health signed an agreement to acquire Terre Haute Regional Hospital and its related businesses, physician clinic operations and outpatient services from HCA Healthcare, which owns Regional. The acquisition will not close until early next year.

Besides the implications for healthcare in the Terre Haute area, the deal is also significant because Regional Hospital’s workforce is among the 10 largest in the community, according to Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. figures, with 662 employees.

Terre Hautes needs healthy citizens and a healthy economy.

Union Health president and CEO Steve Holman addressed the concerns in Tuesday’s announcement of the Regional acquisition.

“There is nothing more that will help change the trajectory of the health of our community, lowering costs, improving quality, than these two teams coming together,” Holman said.

Such collaboration would have helped both hospitals better serve the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, Holman said.

In terms of the loss of competition between the two hospitals, Holman said the acquisition can improve recruitment of physicians, leading to more healthcare choices for residents. Prices are “slightly less than the Indiana average” and that should not change, Holman said. Regional will continue operating without interruption, albeit perhaps with a new name, he added. Union is a nonprofit, while Regional was part of one of the nation’s largest for-profit healthcare chains, Tennessee-based HCA, and Regional will now function as a nonprofit as part of Union.

Also, Regional employees will all have a position at the same or comparable pay, Holman said, and as now Union employees eligible for benefits. Their seniority will also transfer over fully.

Terre Haute area residents and the employees will be expecting those assurances to come to fruition. An acquisition of this size has an outsize impact on the community. Union Health Group has 2,217 employees and will become Terre Haute’s largest employer with the acquisition of Regional, exceeding the Vigo County School Corporation, according to those Terre Haute Economic Development statistics.

In Wednesday’s announcement, Holman said the dollar amount of the acquisition “is not public information” and it was not released. Debate over that assertion aside, Union Health — in the spirit of public transparency — would be wise to disclose the cost involved in acquiring Regional. Just as residents benefit from Union Health’s services throughout the community, the healthcare group also financially benefits from the public’s patronage.

Each step that can stabilize and strengthen the community’s confidence in its healthcare providers, and bolster the services available from those providers is crucial. Terre Haute needs the best from its hospitals and their network of supporting facilities, if the goal of improved health and well-being here is to become a reality.


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