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UM To Buy Cedars Medical Center: Board Members at the University Of Miami Approved the School's Purchase of Cedars Medical Center

In a major move that is likely to modify the hospital industry in South Florida, top board members at the University of Miami approved the purchase of Cedars Medical Center, leaving only a few technicalities before the medical school takes over the facility at the beginning of December.

University officials refused to announce the price of the transaction. A spokesperson for the HCA hospital chain, which is selling the 560-bed facility, said HCA was not revealing the price either.

The approval came from the executive committee of the Board of Trustees. It authorized medical school officials to end the transaction.

Bill Donelan, UM's vice president for medical administration said, "The steps ahead in large measure are mere formalities." UM needs to get approval for the transfer from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and change the Medicare registration. "It's mostly a cleanup process."

Executives at numerous hospitals in South Florida, where occupancy rates of licensed beds are in general around 50 percent, have expressed concern, that UM taking over such a great facility could draw business away from them, and government officials are worried that UM may take paying customers, away from Jackson Memorial, the cash-strapped public hospital where many on the UM medical faculty practice.

Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the medical school, said, "I want to reiterate my commitment to fully support our affiliation, ith Jackson."


His plans have been to make Cedars into a "destination hospital," drawing patients from overseas and in the region of the United States, who would be attracted by UM's expanding staff of physician-professors, much as people go to a place like the Mayo Clinic.

Cedars, across the street from the Jackson/UM campus, has been progressively profitable, even though occupancy has been only to some extent above 50 percent. In 2005, the hospital earned $15 million on $198 million in revenue.


Jackson officials, concerned about the transition, have been stepping up efforts of their own to begin offering premium services to exert a pull on patients with insurance. Both Jackson and UM earlier this year started programs to market their services to international patients.

Donelan said UM planned to have HCA handle some of the information technology functions for Cedars. A chief executive for the hospital, yet to be proclaimed, will report to Donelan.

Donelan said, "In all likelihood, the change will take place on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1."



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