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CoxHealth, pictured, signs a letter of intent to buy Barton County Memorial Hospital, below, in Lamar.
CoxHealth, pictured, signs a letter of intent to buy Barton County Memorial Hospital, below, in Lamar.

CoxHealth pens deal to buy Lamar hospital

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CoxHealth signed a letter of intent to acquire Barton County Memorial Hospital, located 77 miles northwest of Springfield in Lamar.

With the deal expected to finalize by year’s end, CoxHealth would add its sixth hospital. The companies now enter the due diligence phase where they’ll explore each other’s business practices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in a news release.

“By combining the strength of CoxHealth and BCMH, we believe we can expand services in Barton County, find new efficiencies and bring new resources to the community that just would not be possible for a stand-alone hospital,” CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards said in the release.

Lamar represents a new region for CoxHealth, which currently operates hospitals in Springfield, Branson and Monett. Lamar is about 28 miles east of Pittsburg, Kansas, and 41 miles northeast of Joplin.

Wendy Duvall, CEO of Barton County Memorial Hospital, said CoxHealth’s acquisition of the 25-bed critical access center is a sign of the changing health care industry.

“In the current climate, it is becoming increasingly difficult for rural hospitals to keep operating the way they have, especially considering regulations and reimbursements,” she said in the release, noting the deal “ensures that critical access care is still available in our community.”

Launched in 1949 as a hospital for veterans, Barton County Memorial now offers community health care such as cardiology, neurology, radiology and rehabilitation services. Its website also lists two clinics in the county.

CoxHealth’s latest acquisition proposal follows the May cancelation of its planned $120 million purchase of Bolivar’s Citizens Memorial Healthcare. Officials with both hospitals have been mum on the reasons for rethinking the deal.

CoxHealth reported $1.3 billion in local revenue last year on SBJ’s list of the area’s largest employers. The Springfield-based health system ranked first on the list with nearly 10,400 employees in a 50-mile radius of the Queen City.


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