US group to take control of Beacon Hospital


A LEADING US medical group is taking a 66 per cent stake in the independent Beacon Hospital in return for a €68 million investment in a deal that will be formalised today.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC), which has been managing the Dublin hospital since February last year, will become two-thirds owner of the facility from today.

It will be renamed the UPMC Beacon Hospital and become part of a 20-hospital network operated by the US group around the world.

UPMC is investing €68 million in the hospital in return for its stake. This will break down as €25 million for the original investors, €25 million capital expenditure on the facility and €18 million to provide it with working capital to run its operations.

The hospital’s original backers were led by businessmen Michael Cullen, Paddy Shovlin, John Delaney and consultant Mark Redmond. They will remain as owners of 33 per cent of the hospital itself.

UPMC is a non-profit organisation with a focus on research and medical education. Any surplus earned from its operations is ploughed back into these activities in the countries in which it operates, according to Beacon chief executive Joel Yuhas. “All earnings get reinvested back into healthcare in the markets which we serve,” he said yesterday.

Mr Yuhas added that the group intended following the same policy with its Irish operations. UPMC also runs the Whitfield cancer care centre in Waterford.

Its key specialities include cancer treatment, cardiology and orthopaedic medicine. Its relationship with the Beacon group began in 2007, when it began operating the hospital’s cancer care centre. It subsequently took over management of the entire facility.

The Beacon is a full service hospital with 183 beds. It treats about 9,000 patients a year and runs the only accident and emergency unit outside the public system in the Republic.

Its initial future investment plans include opening a cardiac/ chest pain unit, which is in the final stages of commissioning. The facility’s technology will allow diagnosis and treatment planning for patients to begin while they are still in the ambulance.

It is also planning to add another 31 beds at the hospital and expanding its accident and emergency unit, which does not currently deal with ambulance cases.

It has arrangements with the three health insurers operating in the Irish market.

The VHI initially gave it approval for D and E plan customers, but has since extended that to B and C, which means that it can treat the majority of people covered by the State insurer.

Mr Yuhas said yesterday that it also hoped to take in public patients under the National Treatment Purchase Scheme. He pointed out that 90 per cent of those that UPMC treats in Whitfield were public patients.

Further afield, UPMC operates a transplant hospital and research centre in Palermo in Sicily, which Mr Yuhas said drew patients from the entire Mediterranean basin.

It runs facilities in the Middle East and has been contracted to operate a hospital in Cyprus. He said the hospitals within its group could draw on each other’s expertise.