Doctors want to see Valley Health System sale contract

More than 40 doctors at Valley Health System are calling on the hospital district to delay signing a contract with the potential buyer of the district’s hospitals until they have a chance to see what the contract says.

The hospital district board is finalizing the proposed sale contract with Select HealthCare Solutions of Del Mar to acquire all the Hemet-based hospital district’s assets, which include Hemet Valley Medical Center, Menifee Valley Medical Center and Moreno Valley Community Hospital.

Agreement on a contract is anticipated by Thursday, but it’s unclear whether it would be signed that day.

A petition signed by the doctors urges the board not to sign the contract until they have had time to review it and meet with the buyer and the board.

“I would like to know what the contract says,” said Dr. Tin Tun, a Hemet internist and one of the signatories of the petition.

“Nobody knows what it says,” he said.

He said he wants to know what the contract says about emergency-room operations and he also has questions about the track record of Select HealthCare.

Select HealthCare President and CEO Matthew Cutler said he has “no problem” releasing the proposed contract before it is signed, but said it is up to the board.

“It’s their game,” he said. “At the end of the day, it makes no difference to me because if the public doesn’t approve it, it’s not going to pass anyway.”

He said he expects the contract to be released to the public by the end of the month.

Dr. William Cherry, hospital district director, said he prefers that the contract be publicly released before signing, but does not know if that is planned.

“I would hope that the medical staff can take a look at it before it’s done,” he said.

Select HealthCare Solutions bested three other suitors that wanted to acquire all or part of Valley Health’s assets. Since agreeing to sell to the company to acquire the assets, Valley Health officials have been working on an agreement that would address terms of the sale.

Voters within the district, which stretches from San Jacinto to Menifee and Idyllwild to Sun City, have to vote to approve the sale agreement before it could be finalized.

Cutler said the proposed contract is now at least “a couple hundred” pages long, but described it as a “simple sale agreement” that is “very straightforward.”

Cherry said he has not seen a draft of the proposed contract.

Dr. Neal Simpson, a Hemet physician who initiated the petition, said the medical staff wants to see the contract so that issues that affect them could be addressed before it is finalized.

“Once the documents are signed, the language is fixed,” he said. “You can’t go back and change the language.”

He said doctors want to know details of the proposed contract, including what role, if any, the district’s key partner, Dr. Kali P. Chaudhuri, would play.

“Every doctor I know is concerned that this contract is going to change Dr. Chaudhuri from being a failed manager to majority owner of the district,” he said.

Both Cutler and Chaudhuri have said that Chaudhuri is not an investor in Select HealthCare, although as a physician, Chaudhuri would have the opportunity to participate in a hospital-ownership plan like any other doctor. Chaudhuri, in a previous interview, has agreed to step aside as manager of the hospital district to give way to Select HealthCare.

Cutler said that even if doctors do not see the contract before it’s signed, terms could be changed if both he and the board agree to it.

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