TURLOCK -- Emanuel Medical Center will be absorbed by Tenet Healthcare Corp., which owns Doctors Medical Center of Modesto and Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
Tenet announced Thursday it has a firm agreement to acquire Emanuel, an independent, church-owned hospital with deep roots in Turlock.
The 209-bed Emanuel will lose its nonprofit status when it becomes part of Tenet's for-profit health system -- and it's name likely will change. An official with the Dallas-based company said Emanuel will be prominent in the name chosen. It will be the 50th hospital owned by Tenet, which has operations elsewhere in California and in other states.
Specific terms of the deal will be disclosed as it goes through an approval process with the state attorney general's office. Tenet said it expects to complete the purchase by June, which will give the company 680 licensed acute-care beds between Turlock and Manteca.
Emanuel, owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church, was established in 1917 in a building on Canal Drive. Today, the 209-bed center with 1,400 employees offers acute care, critical care, cancer treatment and cardiac services on its Delbon Avenue campus.
"The combination of Emanuel Medical Center with Tenet's existing hospitals represents the alignment of leading health care organizations with a long history of providing high-quality patient care in the Central Valley," said Jeff Koury, senior vice president for Tenet in California.
Emanuel officials said last year they had been trying to merge the hospital with a large health care entity because of economic realities and health reform rules that make it difficult for independents to stand alone. Emanuel and Tenet have worked through a due-diligence process since September.
"It's been quite a journey for the last two years," said Jennifer Larson, chairwoman of Emanuel's board of directors. "This is a way we can ensure we have quality health care in our community."
In a conference call Thursday, Koury and Emanuel Chief Executive Officer John Sigsbury said they don't anticipate changes to health services, such as the cancer treatment center that's operated jointly with Stanford University. The same goes for its cardiac services program.
Koury said Tenet has agreed to offer employment to Emanuel employees who are in good standing.
Sigsbury said proceeds from selling the hospital will be used to satisfy obligations to bondholders. The hospital has about $89 million in tax-exempt bonds outstanding, he said. The CEO said he couldn't tell whether excess funds would remain. Any extra proceeds would go to a foundation created to benefit the community.
Emanuel will remain affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church and retain its faith-based culture and policies, said Tenet, adding that it has maintained the religious identities of Catholic and Baptist hospitals it acquired.
Emanuel, founded by pastors with a Christian movement that originated in Sweden, has enjoyed strong local fund-raising support and epitomized the concept of the community hospital.
Turlock Mayor John Lazar said Emanuel has served the community well for almost 100 years, but he realized that health care entities recently have faced challenges. "We are excited Tenet is coming to town to assume Emanuel's stewardship of health care in Turlock," he said.
An Emanuel employee suggested that many hospital workers are nervous about the change in ownership. An effort to unionize part of the work force surfaced in recent months. "The transition is going to be tough, and a lot of us have fears about it," said Mark Eusey, a nursing assistant. "Tenet is a big corporation and they are known for running a tight budget."