FORMER PROVIDENCE HOSPITAL OWNERS SUE PALMETTO HEALTH …
Last May, this website ran a big story on a brewing legal battle between Providence Hospital of Columbia, S.C. and its rival – Palmetto Health.
At issue? The Moore Orthopedic Clinic – a Midlands-based practice specializing in pediatrics, joint replacement and sports medicine.
As we reported at the time, Moore Orthopedic had partnered with Providence for nearly a decade. In fact Providence had sunk tens of millions of dollars into its Providence Orthopedic Hospital in northeast Richland County, S.C. – a facility which was supposed to be run by hospital vice president Ryan Hall and a staff of more than a dozen-and-a-half doctors.
Something unexpected happened, though.
Hall, his fellow doctors and dozens of other employees bolted Providence – signing agreements to work with Palmetto Health – which then in turn signed a deal with Moore Orthopedic Clinic.
Sound shady? Absolutely … especially if these employees conspired to pull off their coup while they were still being paid by Providence.
Adding another layer of intrigue to this drama? All of this went down right as Providence’s parent organization – the Ohio-based Sisters of Charity Health System – was in negotiations to sell the hospital to a Tennessee-based firm.
That company – LifePoint – eventually decided to purchase the hospital anyway, but the loss of Providence’s orthopedic practice diminished the hospital’s value drove down the purchase price.
Our report from last spring noted that “multiple lawsuits” were in the works – and this week, one of them was finally filed.
According to news columnist John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, the Sisters of Charity have sued Palmetto Health for a whopping $50 million – claiming the hospital “secretly and illegally” conspired to steal Providence’s orthopedic practice.
The Sisters of Charity are also seeking punitive damages.
Filed in federal court, the case will be heard by U.S. district court judge Terry Wooten.
An interesting wrinkle?
The Sisters of Charity say that any money recovered from the lawsuit will go toward a foundation that provides health care to low-income South Carolinians – which is a pretty brilliant initial salvo in what we suspect is going to be a bitter and protracted legal and public relations battle.
Obviously we’ll keep an eye on this case as it moves forward …