INDEPENDENCE — Independence city commissioners on Monday named four people to serve as a committee to represent the city’s interests in the merger discussions between Mercy Hospital and Coffeyville Regional Medical Center.
In a brief special meeting Monday, commissioners voted unanimously to appoint city manager Micky Webb, city attorney Jeff Chubb and city commissioner Fred Meier to serve on a five-member committee. Also representing the city on the committee will be Terry Deschaine, a hospital consultant from Wellington, Kan. A representative of the Forbes Law Firm of Topeka, which has a previous history in representing hospital negotiations, will be consulted and provide advice to the committee as needed during the negotiation process.
Commissioner Gary Hogsett said the committee would serve solely to “look after the bests interests of Independence” as the two hospitals discussion plans for a merger.
The five-member committee has little time to get prepared for its duties. The committee is expected to meet Tuesday afternoon in a round of negotiations between CRMC and Mercy Hospital.
Webb said the committee was established after the City of Independence put a monetary interest in the negotiations. At a special meeting last Thursday, commissioners voted unanimously to signal its intent to be in the negotiations by agreeing to issue $3 million in bonds — either as Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) or General Obligation Bonds (GOBs) — for the purpose of retaining health care services in Independence. That decision marked the first time that the negotiation process involved a local government entity. Prior to Thursday’s meeting, the negotiations have solely been between the two hospitals, both of which are private businesses.
The commission agreed to throw itself in the negotiations after talks between the two hospitals appeared to have stalled. The city commission interjected itself into the process in hopes that the assurance of $3 million in bonds would re-energize those discussions. Details of those negotiations have not been made public.
“We’re obviously the stepchild in this process,” said Mayor Leonhard Caflisch, referring to the previous lack of city input in the hospital merger discussions.