A new management team including Fulton Medical Center CEO Mike Reece has taken charge of the 37-bed facility.
Callaway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tamara Tateosian and Economic Development Director Bruce Hackmann on Tuesday confirmed the change in management. They also confirmed the facility continues to be owned by NueTerra (NueHealth) of Leawood, Kansas.
"Like NueTerra, the chamber is very optimistic about the performance of this hospital under the new management structure," Tateosian and Hackmann said in a joint statement. "We have no reason to view this as anything but a positive development for our hospital and the sustainability of health care in Callaway County moving forward."
NueTerra's ownership of the Fulton Medical Center never ceased, although Miami businessman Jorge Perez and representatives for his company EmpowerHMS stated numerous times they had bought the facility. Empower had a management agreement with NueTerra to manage the Fulton hospital, and that has expired, along with the unfulfilled agreement to purchase.
Hackmann said he didn't know if a new management agreement had yet been signed with Reece or if the new management "group" had a name. Hospital officials did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday.
Fulton Medical Center is the only hospital in Callaway County. In December 2014, the Fulton Medical Center (then named Callaway Community Hospital) was purchased by NueHealth (also known as NueTerra) and University of Missouri Health Care in Columbia. NueHealth owned 65 percent of the venture while MU Health Care owned 35 percent, which — according to the terms of their operating agreement — they could sell back to Fulton Medical Center LLC.
On July 18, 2017, MU Health Care announced its intention to disengage and sell back. NueHealth responded by announcing plans to close the hospital by Sept. 22, 2017.
That's when Perez and EmpowerHMS officials came to Fulton, announcing in mid-September 2017 they had purchased the hospital and would keep the doors open.
In March 2018, the former hospital CEO confirmed the sale had not yet been finalized but Perez was "signing our paychecks." She said she still reported to the board of directors at NueHealth.
In May 2018, the state auditor's office asked the Missouri Attorney General's Office to open an investigation into Hospital Partners Inc., a firm which lists Perez as part owner. The AG's office has declined several times, including recently, to "confirm nor deny" an investigation is taking place.
Also in May, the chief financial officer of Fulton Medical Center said the purchase by EmpowerHMC was "still going on."
Several months later, Reece was announced as the hospital's new CEO. Chamber officials said he plans to stay on.