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Prisma Health purchase of KershawHealth could impact EMS service in Kershaw County

Kershaw County officials say they did not know about the Prisma Health's acquisition of KershawHealth until Thursday morning.

CAMDEN, S.C. — Kershaw County officials are speaking out after learning that the largest not-for-profit health organization in South Carolina will be buying KershawHealth in Camden.

Prisma Health announced on Thursday that they will be acquiring KershawHealth, two Providence Health hospitals in the Columbia area, along with a freestanding emergency room in Fairfield County.

RELATED: Prisma Health acquires Providence Hospitals, Kershaw Health

The hospitals were owned by LifePoint Health, a Tennessee-based healthcare company that provides care in rural areas.

"We are delighted at the prospect of welcoming the Providence and KershawHealth teams to the Prisma Health family," said Mark O'Halla, President and Chief Executive Officer of Prisma Health. "Providence and KershawHealth are known to share our commitment to improving patient experiences, clinical quality and access to care. We look forward to continuing our mutual goal of enhancing the health of our communities."

Prisma Health says the acquisition will help them expand in clinical areas such as cardiovascular, women's health, orthopedics and pediatrics that "neither organization could do alone."

Kershaw County officials say they were blindsided by the decision.

"We did not become aware of it officially until they released their release this morning," says Vic Carpenter, Kershaw County Administrator. "It was never presented to us. We were never included in discussions. We were never considered germane to the discussion, therefore our council never had the opportunity to even have a voice in the matter."

According to a statement from Kershaw County: 

Based on the understanding of the new ownership, Kershaw County will not receive the one-third funding that is afforded to them based on the 2015 agreement that transferred the hospital's EMS services to the County. This will result in the loss of approximately $1,000,000 each year for EMS services and will force the County to consider if the level of EMS service our community is already receiving is feasible to continue based on the loss of funding.

"For us this is ambulances, this is rural clinics, this is medicine to indigent, these are all issues that are important and critical to us," says Carpenter. "We have a great community, we always have and intend to always have a good relationship with our medical provider. It's a matter of making sure that a big corporate entity, multi billion dollar, doesn't come in and we're the ones on the losing end because it's easier to cut off here and there to help the bottom line somewhere."

Kershaw County Council plans on discussing the sale at their upcoming council meeting on March 10, 2020.

Prisma Health says the sale is not finalized, as they are waiting legal and regulatory approval.

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