Court of Appeals approves sale of HMH to Baptist Health

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — Hardin Memorial Health (HMH) and Hardin County leaders announced Friday that the Kentucky Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision upholding Judge Kelly Easton’s opinion finding that Hardin County followed the law in negotiating the sale of HMH assets to Baptist Health.

Specifically, the court ruled that Dr. Larry Hall, who made the appeal, “lacked the necessary standing” to challenge the sale, that he had “absolutely no evidence” that the process used was done in secret, and that he failed to follow the proper procedure to make a claim against Hardin County for an Open Meetings Act violation.

Hardin County judge-executive Harry Berry, chairman of the HMH Board of Trustees, said, “We were always confident that there were no errors in our sale process and the court ruled that this was indeed, the case. We appreciate the Kentucky Court of Appeals’ affirmation that combining the resources of these two strong healthcare institutions will greatly benefit Central Kentucky residents.”

The agreement between HMH and Baptist Health was reached on May 1, 2018 and was scheduled to close in December 2018. Under the terms of the proposed partnership, Baptist Health would acquire all assets of HMH and, in return, would commit $235 million over a 10-year period to HMH in operating and capital investments and $50 million to Hardin County over a 25-year period.

Hall filed a lawsuit in July 2018 to stop the sale and has effectively delayed the closing. In October 2018, the Hardin Circuit Court found in favor of Hardin County in Hall’s suit and decided that Hardin County had followed Kentucky law in all aspects. Hall then appealed Judge Easton’s decision to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, who affirmed the judge’s decision in the 3-0 unanimous opinion issued Friday.

Dennis Johnson, HMH president and CEO, said “This is a resounding victory for our patients, our 2,800-plus team members and for our entire community. Despite this lengthy sale delay, HMH’s list of accolades remained very strong and includes earning a coveted Pathway of Excellence nursing distinction and a reaffirmation of an A-minus bond rating by Standard and Poor’s.”

Johnson added, “We cared for more patients than ever in nearly every service area and improved patient experience scores, so imagine what we can accomplish for patients with the power of Baptist Health fully behind us.”

Berry said, “During this extended delay, HMH and Baptist Health have continued to work on transition details, so we are ready to move ahead as soon as we can schedule the closing. We will communicate more in the days ahead, but today we celebrate.”

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