Board of Natrona County Commissioners Approves Agreement with Banner Health

At the Aug. 13 special meeting of the Board of Natrona County Commissioners and County-appointed Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, the Commissioners unanimously voted to approve an agreement to sell the land, buildings and equipment associated with Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) to Banner Health for $157 million.

Since WMC announced its partnership exploration process in the Spring of 2019, the Board of County Commissioners has been paying close attention and appropriately engaging in the process to do the right thing for our community and protect and ensure our County’s healthcare future. As WMC moved forward in the process, it became clear that the County had an important role as the owner of the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC. Along the way, we asked tough questions and worked to determine the best path forward for the County. This work included seeking a third-party, independent fair market valuation of the County-owned assets from one of the nation’s leading firms with specific experience in this area, engaging expert legal counsel to support the County in the process, ensuring we got to know Banner to determine if they are a good fit for our County and much more.

Beyond the many months of work during exploration and the due diligence period, it was important to the Board of County Commissioners for the public to have the opportunity to learn about what was being proposed and provide comment and input. Since the July announcement of the details in the WMC and Banner Letter of Intent, the Board of Commissioners have had many conversations with community members, listened to residents’ input at two community forums and sought input through other means, including the opportunity for residents to comment directly to the Board of Commissioners by email and phone. The Board of Commissioners values the feedback received and took all comments into consideration when evaluating whether WMC joining Banner Health would be beneficial for the people of Natrona County.

Our vision is to help grow access to high-quality care close to home for the people we serve, and in doing so improve the health of our communities and secure our area’s healthcare future. We know how important local healthcare is to ensure a vibrant community, and we want to see our area be the best that it can be. WMC joining Banner Health is a special opportunity that can drive healthcare forward, helping ultimately to improve local healthcare for our residents today and for generations that follow. Banner’s purchase of the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC from the County make all of this possible.

Banner Health’s $157 million purchase of the land, buildings and equipment will allow the County to provide substantial one-time financial support of $40 million to the WMC Foundation and secure approximately $117 million that can be invested for the County’s future. In addition, and separate and aside from the $157 million, approximately $50 million in debt will removed from the County’s books when the debt is retired.

Moreover, through its agreement with WMC, Banner Health will invest a minimum of $100 million in WMC and its facilities, technology, programs, people and operations to protect and expand access to high-quality local care. Beyond this significant investment, Banner has made commitments that will

result in one of the largest independent, nonprofit foundations in Wyoming, receiving more than $220 million in initial projected funding to focus on healthcare in Natrona County, and providing significant support specifically to WMC on an annual basis to support its facilities and technology, as well as other philanthropic efforts.

Importantly, when it comes to local control, we have worked hard to ensure proper protections are in place for the people of Natrona County. The County will preserve the ability to legally enforce Banner’s commitments to maintain an acute care hospital satisfying certain basic hospital criteria and to continue to provide care for prisoners and individuals subject to involuntary hospitalization. To be clear, the County has the important ability to ensure these commitments by Banner are met in full.

Finding an organization with the right values, healthcare expertise and financial ability to secure our County’s healthcare future is an opportunity we must embrace. We are confident that WMC’s position as Banner’s Wyoming flagship hospital will drive healthcare forward in Natrona County, our region and our State in the decades that lie ahead. This is the right thing for our County, and we are excited about this important milestone and what it means for the future of local healthcare.

For more information, please visit Natrona.net or WMCForward.org.