Saint Mary's For Sale?

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Saint Mary's For Sale?

The second-biggest hospital in the Reno area is apparently up for sale.

St. Mary's, which is part of a chain of Catholic hospitals, is hurting financially.

Hospitals in Nevada have a harder time than those in other states right now.

With unemployment high, the numbers of people who can't pay their hospital bills are growing.

That cost generally gets passed on to all the rest of the patients who can pay or have insurance.

So who would want to buy St. Mary's?

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Universal Health Services is interested.

The company owns Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks, along with dozens of other hospitals and clinics around the country.

UNR Economics professor Jeanne Wendel says that might be a good fit for righting the ship at St. Mary's.

WENDEL: "Being part of a larger chain than what they're part of might bring more scale economies in the ordering and the purchasing, the electronic medical records which is right now very big. So if they could bring some efficiencies, maybe they could get the cost down."

Wendel says local hospitals are also vunder increasing pressure from neighboring markets in California.

That's because federal health care reforms are encouraging people to do more shopping around for medical services.

(Full disclosure: St. Mary's is an underwriter of Reno Public Radio.)