There’s possible fallout after the Billings Clinic and a Tennessee-based company announced plans to buy Missoula’s Community Medical Center last month.
The move will turn the center into a for-profit operation.
Our sources indicate Community’s competition, Saint Patrick Hospital, may be considering a new business venture -- babies.
We started asking questions after an advertisement for a Regional Director of Women’s Health, based in Missoula, appeared on Providence Health Services’ website.
The ad says the applicant would be in charge of in-patient obstetrics and a neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at Saint Patrick and at another Providence property -- Saint Joseph in Polson.
Saint Joseph delivers babies. Saint Patrick does not. Neither has a NICU. Community Medical Center has both.
In 2001, the Saint Patrick Board decided to add babies to its business. But the NICU was ultimately left to Community. Sources indicate a similar arrangement was kicked around in 2013 and, again, set aside.
But the two have a collaborative agreement.
Community’s Mary Windecker said that deal, firmed up in the last few months, allows Saint Patrick’s contracted patients access to obstetrics services at Community and Community patients access to to open heart services at Saint Patrick.
Windecker says the deal applies to any future owners and can be canceled at will by either party.
We called Saint Patrick’s officials and emailed for a comment. We did not hear back from them or from their bosses at Providence’s headquarters in Washington state.