By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — Under the weight of more than $100 million of debt, LRGHealthcare filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday in federal bankruptcy court.
The hospital organization that includes both Lakes Region in Laconia and Franklin hospitals has faced financial difficulties for some time, but the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the healthcare organization’s problems as it did for other hospitals in the state and around the country.
Lakes Region hospital officials said despite the filing, patients and employees should not experience any disruptions.
Concord Hospital has offered $30 million to acquire the organization’s assets.
They said the bankruptcy filing is an “important step toward securing our long-term financial stability, ensuring a bright future for our hospitals and medical practices and preserving local access to care in our communities.”
Under the offer Concord would acquire both hospitals as well as its ambulatory sites.
“Our doors will remain open. This legal and regulatory process will play out in the courts and not in the walls of our hospitals,” said LRGHealthcare President and CEO Kevin W. Donovan, in a letter to patients. “Our team of outstanding doctors, nurses and support staff will remain focused on providing the health care services you need.”
He noted that several steps remain before the Lakes Region healthcare organization is acquired by Concord Hospital, which he said is a non-profit organization like Lakes Region and with a similar mission.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court will conduct an auction with all potential buyers not just Concord Hospital. Any final transaction will require approval by state regulatory agencies.
A resolution is expected to take at least until the end of the year, if not into 2021.
“As this process unfolds, we are committed to providing updates to our community,” said Donovan, “and will share more information as we move forward.”
The hospital organization was the first recipient of the state’s Healthcare Provider Relief Program to help them weather the pandemic storm last spring.
Lakes Region received a grant of $5.25 million from what was then the state fund, but was replaced with federal CARES Act money when it became available.
The hospital organization furloughed 600 workers as all state hospitals halted non-essential procedures to provide enough rooms for COVID-19 patients.
Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement the potential acquisition by Concord Hospital will provide LRGH a path to financial stability allowing it to continue providing services to its patients.
“The state has and will continue to provide any resources that are necessary to enable LRG Healthcare to continue services while it navigates this process,” Sununu said.
Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.