An Oklahoma company has purchased Casper’s Summit Medical Center, allowing the formerly physician-owned hospital to begin treating more types of patients.
New Manna Augusta, a health care acquisition and management company, purchased the hospital March 1, Summit spokeswoman Lori Klatt said Monday.
The change allows Summit to accept patients who receive health coverage through Medicare, Medicaid and other federal insurance programs. Federal rules prevent physician-owned hospitals from taking those types of government coverage.
“That is the only reason we did this,” Klatt said. “It’s still the same doctors, the same great care, the same everything.”
Klatt acknowledged that Summit hadn’t seen the patient volumes that its officials had hoped for when it was founded four years ago.
The sale ends the run of physician-owned hospitals in Casper. Less than a year ago, Wyoming Medical Center became the state’s largest hospital after it agreed to purchase the other physician-owned hospital in Casper, Mountain View Regional.
Mountain View, founded a little over a decade ago by former WMC physicians, was located essentially next door to Summit in east Casper. After it purchased the smaller, more specialized facility, WMC closed Mountain View’s emergency room and turned it into another campus of the hospital.
“We believe everybody in the community deserves the chance at choice in health care,” Klatt said. “There’s more choice in health care in other cities. In Casper, there is limited choice. That’s why we wanted to open it up to everyone in the community.”
Summit opened in April 2015, with 24 local doctors owning majority interest in the venture. It offers a range of services, from surgery and orthopedics to primary care and imaging.
Summit is dwarfed by its cross-town competitor. It is licensed for 16 beds; Wyoming Medical Center has 235.
With Mountain View’s closure, Wyoming Medical Center operates Casper’s only emergency department. But Klatt indicated that Summit officials are mulling whether to open an ER.
“That is something that may be in our plans,” she said.
Last year, after Wyoming Medical Center’s purchase of Mountain View was announced, Summit released a statement about why patients should choose a physician-owned hospital. The statement noted that “patients’ choice of care is now limited to two options: Summit Medical Center and Wyoming Medical Center” and that, were it not for Summit, then “Wyoming Medical Center (would have) a monopoly on medical costs and choices for health care in the Casper community. “
The hospitals have been rivals from the beginning. Officials at Wyoming Medical Center lobbied against Summit’s opening. They claimed Summit would siphon away central Wyoming’s most lucrative patients while leaving WMC to care for older and poorer patients who rely on government programs like Medicare and Medicaid for coverage. Such a move, they warned at the time, could force the larger hospital to cut services.
However, Wyoming Medical Center has expanded since then and now operates two primary care clinics and an east side campus, along with the main facility on East Second Street.