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Watsonville Hospital sale finalized

Management, employees celebrate

WATSONVILLE—Watsonville Community Hospital has a new owner.

Halsen Healthcare announced Tuesday that the $30 million sale was finalized at midnight.

“This is the first day that Halsen actually owns Watsonville Community Hospital,” Chairman and CEO Dan Brothman said.

Halsen was holding a celebratory afternoon barbecue for its day-shift employees and planned to hold additional ones for the later and early shifts.

Watsonville Community Hospital is a 106-bed hospital with more than 200 doctors and 620 employees. Since 1895, the hospital has offered medical and surgical services to the culturally diverse city located along California’s Central Coast.

Halsen Healthcare is a one-year-old organization formed to buy the hospital from previous owner Tennessee-based Quorum Health Corporation, which owned the hospital since 2016.

Halsen said the sale was the end of a process that began in August 2018 when he signed a letter of intent to make the purchase.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “We’ve worked over a year on this.”

Halsen has sold the property and the building to Alabama-based Medical Properties Trust (MPT) and is leasing it from them in a so-called sale/leaseback.

Such a transaction — fairly common in commercial real estate — has allowed Halsen to run the hospital while reinvesting the money into it.

“We’re starting this process where we have money in the bank,” Brothman said. “As opposed to being under-financed and under-capitalized. We’re well-capitalized.”

Medical Properties Trust is a publicly-traded company, boasting total assets of $8.8 billion and an annual revenue of $784.5 million, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Brothman said that Halsen has given its employees the same benefits package they were receiving before the sale.

“What I think is most important is that we’ve focused on the employees’ salaries, wages and benefits,” Brothman said. “The most important thing to us is that the employees are well taken care of.

It’s all for the betterment of the community. We feel that we can do a lot to make this hospital an even more integral part of this community.”

Urologist Peter Breton, who also serves as president of the California Medical Association, said that it is important to have a stable investor to oversee “safety net” hospitals such as Watsonville’s.

“We are looking forward to a very productive future with the new owners so that we can provide care to all the patients in the community,” he said.

Nurse Julie Judd said she was “very excited” about the new owners.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for our community to put some healthcare back into the community,” she said. “And I think we’re fortunate that HHC has chosen to invest in us. We’re excited for new change and moving forward.”

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For information about Watsonville Community Hospital, visit www.watsonvillehospital.com.

For information about Halsen Healthcare, visit www.halsenhealth.com.

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