President and CEO of Missoula Community Medical Center, Steve Carlson, said on Friday, March 28, that the hospital has been purchased by Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners. 

Community Medical Center was already affiliated with Billings Clinic Gynecologic Surgery, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Services.

At a Friday afternoon press conference, Carlson said the Community Medical Center Board came to a decision at their regular Thursday meeting.

"I'm pleased to announce that the board's choice is the Billings Clinic and their partner Regional Care," Carlson said. "We selected this group and the joint venture they offer because we think they bring in combination all the unique capabilities that we seek. This has not been an easy decision, nor should it have been. It's a decision that affects this community and this institution which has over 75 years of service to the Missoula and western Montana market. The board is very confident that they have selected a partner that will provide us a great value as we attempt to enhance the service value to our community."

Carlson was asked if the announcement meant that Community Medical Center had been purchased, or if the two entities had merged, or if it is a partnership.

"I look at it as having several of those elements," Carlson said. "This is a purchase of assets, and one of the points that will need to be affirmed is that the purchase will be at fair market value. However, that's part of the process that the attorney general would work through on behalf of the community. Should that go forward, we become part of this new venture that RegionalCare and Billings clinic have already established. This is the first step in that process."

Carlson has careful to say that the purchase of Community by Billings Clinic will mean that eventually the hospital will have to change from not-for-profit, to for-profit status, and that will require public comment and the approval of Montana's Attorney General Tim Fox. Carlson said that process will begin soon, and probably be wrapped up by the fall.

Carlson said Community Medical Center will eventually have a new name, but there was no speculation during the press conference as to what that might be.

President and CEO of Community Medical Center Steve Carlson

Rumors about a possible merger have been circulating for some time, and there was speculation that Providence Medical Group, the parent company of Missoula's other major healthcare facility, St. Patrick Hospital.

Providence Medical Group provided KGVO with the following news release.

 MISSOULA­– For more than 140 years, Providence St. Patrick Hospital has been a leader in providing the best care for patients and increasing access to high-quality, affordable healthcare in our region.

“While we are disappointed in Community Medical Center’s decision, we believe lowering costs and increasing quality is the best for our community and we will continue to build relationships with partners who share our same vision to accomplish these goals,” said Providence Western Montana Chief Executive Jeff Fee.

Throughout its history,St.PatrickHospitalhas adapted to meet the community’s needs for healthcare options.

“We will make the necessary investments in patient care to provide a comprehensive range of services to the residents of Western Montana,” said Fee.

“St.Patrick Hospital has served the community for more than 140 years,” added Fee, “and we will continue to serve for decades to come, never taking the focus away from our commitment to the poor and vulnerable.”