(LAT) A high-stakes bidding war has erupted for St. John’s Health Center, a storied Santa Monica hospital, with a local billionaire teaming up with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles on an unsolicited offer.
The latest bid, expected to be formally announced Wednesday, comes from former drug-company executive and healthcare entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, who said in a statement the bid has the support of the archdiocese. This offer is competing against at least two other bidders’.
One bidder is a group that comprises UCLA Health System and two large Catholic hospital chains. Another potential buyer is Providence Health & Services, another Catholic hospital company.
St. John’s is owned by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, a nonprofit chain based in Denver. Officials there began soliciting offers for St. John’s this year. No dollar figures have been disclosed publicly.
Whoever wins would inherit a hospital rich in history but one that is steadily losing ground in a market that increasingly favors bigger institutions. Roman Catholic nuns founded St. John’s in 1942 and oversaw the rebuilding of the hospital after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Hollywood stars Jimmy Stewart and Julie Andrews raised money for the hospital. St. John’s celebrity patients have included Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and President Reagan.
This latest development in the bidding adds another chapter in a months-long drama playing out at St. John’s. In November, its Denver owner abruptly fired most of the local board members and ousted the top two executives.
In a statement Tuesday, Soon-Shiong discussed the proposal and described his offer as a “community bid that would further enhance [St. John's] capabilities, bringing world class physicians and potentially historic advancements” in medical care.
“Soon-Shiong has the doctor and community support and a boatload of money to support the hospital. This option cannot be ignored.”