Published: Friday, May 4, 2007
Businessman says fallen Forum deal is lost opportunity for community
Muransky said Forum backed out on a handshake deal on Beeghly.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
YOUNGSTOWN "Mind-boggling" is how Ed Muransky describes Forum Health's handling of the Valley Hospital Ventures project.
So frustrated is Muransky that on Wednesday his MHV Management firm filed suit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court against Forum Health and individually against Dr. Keith Ghezzi, interim president and chief executive officer, seeking monetary damages and dissolution of the joint venture.
In the suit, Muransky, owner of the Muransky Co. and Southwoods Surgery Center in Boardman, accused Forum of breach of contract and fraud. The suit says Forum officials intentionally misled MVH since late 2004 when the two, along with 114 local physicians, formed Valley Hospital Ventures.
The joint venture planned to develop a full-service, for-profit hospital in southern Mahoning County.
Forum Health management said it has acted legally and ethically in all of its dealings with its partners in the Valley Hospital project.
"We will vigorously defend Forum against the complaint," a brief statement issued by Patty Kimerer, corporate communications manager, reads.
Muransky, in a telephone interview Thursday, said Forum's undermining of Valley Hospital Ventures is a lost opportunity for the community as well as him personally.
"I'm very disappointed for this community. There was an absolute opportunity to grow the health system," thereby providing hundreds of jobs and preserving local health-care facilities, Muransky said.
"In a few years, we are going to find ourselves having to drive to Akron and Pittsburgh and Cleveland for health care because it is no longer available here. I'm dumbfounded it has come to this," he said.
Muransky said that on Jan. 3, 2007, he had a handshake deal with Dr. Ghezzi to buy Forum Health's Beeghly Medical Park for $30 million as a site for the Valley Hospital.
But a week or so later, Muransky learned the deal was off, apparently because the value of the Beeghly facility was established at $43 million by Wellspring Partners, a consulting firm hired by Forum to turn around its finances.
Muransky said if he had known Forum would not accept $30 million, he would have said "no way" at the beginning and not expended time and money pursuing the deal.
"We would have had to put another $40 million to $50 million into Beeghly to make it suit Valley Hospital's needs," making it unfeasible, he explained.
Muransky said $9 million was raised in 2006 to continue development of the Valley Hospital venture, about $3 million each by himself, the physicians group and Forum Health.
The doctors, who are not party to the lawsuit, got their money back, plus interest. It sat in the bank, and "as soon as I saw Forum start to go sidewise in 2005," it was returned to them, he said.
Doctors in agreement
The physicians were excited about the Valley Hospital project. To have 114 doctors agree on something and for Forum not to see the value of that is very sad, he said.
"It's an absolute joke that the Forum board and Dr. Ghezzi are not dealing with Youngstown people to figure this out," Muransky said.
The people in Youngstown are reasonable and they are hard workers, and the Valley Hospital situation could have been worked out, he said.
"Instead, you have out-of-towners calling the shots," Muransky said.
Muransky, a Cardinal Mooney High School graduate, said one of the reasons he came back to Youngstown was to use his skills to give back to the community.
His vision for the Mahoning Valley, particularly in view of the aging population, includes growing the health-care industry here.
With the resources in Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Akron, this area could become part of a regional health-care area.
"Why not partner with those people instead of competing against them?" he said.
"Let's do some things, so good jobs will stay here. If we don't do these things, such as Valley Hospital or St. Elizabeth Health Center in Boardman, that will keep our health-care professionals here, in a few years we're going to have a huge problem with a shortage," Muransky added.