Beaufort Memorial Hospital plans to borrow $21 million to buy a pair of buildings and new equipment on its Ribaut Road campus.
The purchase of the three-story Beaufort Medical Plaza south of the hospital and the purchase of the Surgery Center of Beaufort make up the bulk of the cost, according to hospital chief financial officer Jeff White.
County Council unanimously approved the borrowing Monday and will vote twice more to finalize the proposal. Hospital borrowing must have council approval because the public nonprofit hospital is considered a county agency, White added.
At the end of June, the hospital agreed to buy the Beaufort Medical Plaza for $8.25 million from health care real estate developer Lillibridge, White said.
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The hospital has paid about $1 million in rent each year for several offices in the building, including a women's center, outpatient imaging center, a primary care office and an outpatient psychiatric clinic, White said.
"We occupied the majority of the building, so it made sense for us to buy it and stop paying rent for what we were using," he said.
Hospital leaders also hope to acquire the Surgery Center of Beaufort to capitalize on health care trends and expand outpatient services, White said.
The center is split between a group of private doctors, which owns about 60 percent of the operation, and Broad River Healthcare, which owns about 40 percent, White said.
Hospital CEO Rick Toomey is negotiating the agreement to purchase the building and the 60 percent of the practice owned by the doctors. Hospital leaders hope to close the $9 million to $10 million deal by November, White said.
"Surgery is one of the strong service lines for the hospital, so we felt like it would be a good business move," White said.
The remainder of the borrowing will be used to replace some equipment at the hospital, according to White.
None of the hospital's borrowing will be backed by the county and will not be counted toward the county's state-mandated debt capacity, Councilman Rick Caporale added.
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