The Starke County Council discussed the proposed hospital sale at their meeting this week. Council President David Pearman suggested that before any decision be made on the sale to IU Health LaPorte Hospital that a consultant needs to be secured to give the members some idea of what the facility is worth.
“Just like we decided we weren’t experts on jails, I don’t think any of us can say we’re experts on hospitals,” Pearman commented. “I’d like to make a recommendation that we hire a consultant to decide if the deal we’re being offered is a good deal or we should seek other avenues, etc., etc. I’d like to introduce this to the commissioners.”
Pearman suggested that his fellow council members consider using Save the Hospital funds to pay for the consultant.
“I think that would be a perfect thing to use the Save the Hospital funds for. I think we need to hire a consultant because that would fit directly on what the intention of those funds, in my mind, are for.”
Pearman noted that when IU Health LaPorte Hospital made the offer in October, officials wanted an answer by April 1st.
“I think that we need to just look at this whole hospital activity – not that I want to rush it, or get anything done tomorrow. I think if we we’re going to get a consultant we need to do that yesterday, so we can start getting some good information.”
The Save the Hospital Fund has grown to almost $5,000,000, but County Attorney Martin Lucas cautioned that it may need a special Super Majority Vote of the council and commissioners for the use of those funds in such a manner.
Council woman Judy Benninghoff stated that maybe the vote on the matter needs to be taken before anything else is done.
“Don’t you think we need to get together to see if we’re going to get a Super majority to fund a consultant to do the work before we look at a consultant to begin with? And if we have to do that we need to schedule a meeting,” Benninghoff said.
In the October offer, IU Health LaPorte Hospital offered $1.00 and release of undepreciated assets that totaled $7.4 million. It was also stated that IU Health LaPorte Hospital needs to make improvements soon to the aging building. There was some mention that IU Health LaPorte Hospital would build a new hospital if remodeling of the old one proved to be unfeasible.
Hospital official, David Hyatt, said that IU Health LaPorte Hospital is willing to work with the officials even after the April 1st deadline if it appears progress is being made in the negotiations.