The Foresight Hospital and Health Systems project is officially on hold, its Chief Operating Officer (COO) Joe Hylak-Reinholtz said in a Friday interview.
“At the moment I have the project on hold, and that was my call,” Hylak-Reinholtz said, adding that the company is opening facilities in Chicago and Dubai and has a project going in Saudi Arabia.
“My goal is to get all these going in this first month or two of this year. Then, if something doesn’t materialize with Patrick County, which at this point I don’t think it’s going to, I will then turn my eyes back to Virginia and try to figure out what we can do.”
The company has looked at a number of options, including going back to just a psychiatric facility, which he knows doesn’t solve the county’s emergency room access issues, he said. Another option is a residential treatment facility.
“We’re looking at options that might have a lower cost when it comes to renovations and staff than a hospital with an emergency department that needs to be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Hylak-Reinholtz said. “I’m not saying we’re closing the door to that, but I just need to see what opportunities are out there, and if an opportunity arises, I need to consider that.”
Hylak-Reinholtz said “the million-dollar question” is where Foresight is going from here, and what its next step is.
“I need to be fully honest; I don’t know. I wish I could have an answer for you,” Hylak-Reinholtz said.
Foresight, he added, has had a number of challenges that haven’t been solved, including finding an electronic medical records software provider.
“That in itself is a major problem when what we’re looking for, we’re talking $250,000 development fee for the software, then $51,000 a month in licensing fees to this particular company. And that is one of the more affordable options,” he said.
He was unable to identify the company because a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) has been signed as part of the negotiation process.
Hylak-Reinholtz said he also doesn’t know how long, if ever, it would take for the hospital to turn a profit, “and that’s a problem when it comes to that, when it comes to renovation costs, when it comes to the amount of time and energy spent trying to recruit physicians. There are a number of things where prices are higher than we originally anticipated.”
The company was working with Del. Wren Williams, R-Stuart, to see if it could transfer ownership of the hospital to the county, Hylak-Reinholtz said. The company also considered regional healthcare development agencies outside of the county.
“Wren was working… to see if there was an opportunity to do that,” Hylak-Reinholtz said, adding the company is looking for different options and nothing is off the table.
“If there was an opportunity like other states and counties have done in the past,” with the county owning the building “and then we could operate the facility, that was something I thought was worth exploring,” he said.
While Foresight was pursuing that option, there was never a guarantee it was going to take place, Hylak-Reinholtz said, but he believes considering every option is what a business needs to do.
“If someone says, ‘Hey, maybe you guys donate this hospital to the county since you aren’t doing anything with it. Maybe we could do something to get it off the ground quicker than you guys are doing.’ I’m going to listen to that opportunity,” he said.
He added Foresight has also entertained the idea of other people purchasing the facility from them, “but at the end of the day, I can’t guarantee” anything until a deal is struck. “I still need to start considering what other options we might do for the property. At the end of the day, it’s still on our books, it’s still an asset we have, and it would make no sense to leave it there doing nothing.”
Because he is not in charge of Foresight’s financials, Hylak-Reinholtz said he was unaware that there were unpaid county taxes or utilities owed to the Town of Stuart.
“I’m working with our CEO on a timeline to figure out when that needs to be paid,” he said, adding that he was surprised Patrick County Board of Supervisors chairman Brandon Simmons didn’t know about the possibility of Foresight transferring ownership of the hospital to the county.
“It was kind of surprising to me that he said he didn’t know about it since we’ve been having conversations with individuals who work for the county,” he said.
Williams has said he discussed the company’s proposals with the county’s economic development team.
Hylak-Reinholtz last spoke with county officials in late November or December, he said of County Administrator Beth Simms and Economic Development Director Patrick Copper.
He added that the company has not moved any new equipment into the hospital. The only property or equipment inside the building was left by the former owner who closed the hospital in 2017.
“When you update a facility, the last thing you do is bring in new equipment. So, we have not done any acquisitions or put anything new in the building since we acquired it,” he said.
Hylak-Reinholtz plans on reaching out to Simmons and the rest of the board to potentially talk about the future, the direction of the company, and where they want to see it go.
“I don’t think it’s productive for us to move beyond my initial reaction in the present,” he said. “I think now I’m looking to extend an olive branch, and again try a spirit of cooperation with Patrick County.”