Council to consider hospital merger terms

The Ashland City Council will consider whether to approve a letter of intent tonight outlining the terms of Ashland Community Hospital's merger into Asante Health System.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

The letter states that Asante would make every effort to offer — but not guarantee — employment to as many ACH employees as possible in the Asante network, which includes Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass and Asante Physician Partners.

With 400 employees and a $25 million annual payroll, ACH is Ashland's third largest employer and provides the highest average wage, according to a fact sheet created by ACH in late 2012.

Under the proposed agreement, the hospital would be run by the Asante's board of directors and ACH's board would become a quality committee.

The city would transfer the land, buildings, fixed equipment and its corporate ownership of ACH to Asante. The hospital was a city department before being spun off in 1996 to operate on its own.

If Asante fails to operate ACH as a general hospital in the first three years, the corporation would revert back to the city and Asante would pay $8 million to cover the outstanding balance on a construction loan.

Asante would continue operating ACH as a general hospital for another 12 years or pay $4 million to the city, according to the letter. The corporation, however, would not revert back to the city.

Asante would make $10 million in capital improvements in the first three years.

If the council approves the letter of intent, the next step would be to create a definitive agreement, which also would need the approval of Asante, ACH, the ACH Foundation and the council.

That step would take 60 to 90 days to complete, according to Asante.

In other business on Tuesday, the council is scheduled to:

  • Consider approval of helicopter forest thinning contracts on U.S. Forest Service land as well as the city-owned Winburn Parcel in the Ashland watershed.
  • Hear an update from the ad hoc Steering Committee on Homelessness.
  • Consider whether to allow homeless people to bring their dogs to a winter shelter operated in the city's Pioneer Hall building on Thursday night.

For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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