Learn more about the proposed agreement for WMC to join Banner Health

Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you learn more about the proposed agreement for WMC to join Banner Health. You can also submit a question of your own at email address. We will update this page regularly to answer new questions we receive. 

1.  What is being announced?

Earlier this year, the Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) Board of Directors announced the signing of a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with Banner Health to allow the necessary time for the organizations to conduct mutual due diligence and for the opportunity to fully determine the specific terms of a proposed agreement.

The County’s role has been to stay apprised of the situation and aware of appropriate ongoing discussions as Wyoming Medical Center has moved through its exploration process and the due diligence period with Banner Health. The prospect of WMC joining Banner Health is a special opportunity that we believe can drive healthcare forward for our community, helping ultimately to make local healthcare even better for those we serve today and for this generation and generations to come. We believe Banner is the right partner for WMC and for Natrona County.  

The County has a key role in the prospect of WMC joining Banner because today the County owns the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC. This puts us in a position to help secure the best healthcare future possible for those we serve. A separate agreement with the County for Banner to purchase the land, buildings and equipment for $157 million will allow the County to provide a substantial one-time support to the WMC foundation, secure more than $120 million that can be invested for the County’s future and eliminate approximately $50 million in debt. Banner’s purchase of the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC from the County will make all of this possible.

Through the proposed agreement, WMC would become the flagship and referral hub of Banner Health’s long-time presence in Wyoming, further advancing high-quality healthcare and enhancing access to care in our region and in the more rural parts of our state.

2.  Why is this happening?

As leaders of Natrona County, we are committed to keeping our area a great place to live, work and raise a family. We know how special our community is and want to see our area be the best that it can be. We are committed to ensuring that Natrona County is as successful as possible – not just today or five years from today, but for generations down the road. 

Local healthcare plays a critical role in ensuring a strong future, and the current and future healthcare needs of our community are an important priority. For that reason, our vision is to help grow access to high-quality care close to home right here in Natrona County, and in doing so improve the health of our communities and secure our healthcare future. 

The fact is that investing in our healthcare future is critical, and the reality is that as a standalone hospital WMC has limited resources to continually invest in addressing the changing healthcare needs of Wyoming residents. Furthermore, the County also has limited resources to make the kinds of investments required to secure our healthcare future. 

Given the enduring headwinds in the healthcare industry – and as the ongoing coronavirus situation has made even more clear – it is vital that we maintain the financial strength and stability required to protect and grow the care provided in our communities. The proposed agreement with Banner ensures WMC’s nonprofit mission continues and provides a clear path forward to achieve the strongest healthcare future possible, including the ability to meet the challenges of unforeseen events in the future.

3.  Who made this decision?

The WMC Board has thoughtfully considered all options and opportunities available. The extensive due diligence process has provided the WMC Board and leaders the important opportunity to get to know Banner, and vice versa. This thoughtful process has allowed the WMC Board and leadership team to take the time to do this right, and we have confirmed that Banner shares our vision and commitment to keep and grow access to local healthcare in Wyoming and is the right partner for WMC and Natrona County.

Natrona County owns the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC but does not provide funding to the hospital. WMC leases the land, building and equipment from the County, and the Board of County Commissioners appoints a Board of Trustees to oversee the land, buildings and equipment provided to WMC under an operating lease. Neither the Board of County Commissioners nor the Board of Trustees oversee the operations of the hospital. 

4.  What is the County’s role?

The County has been staying apprised during the due diligence process and has had the opportunity to hear from Banner on their plans to invest in our community’s healthcare future. 

In order to understand the proposed agreement, it’s important to know that Natrona County owns the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC but does not provide funding to the hospital. WMC leases the land, buildings and equipment from the County, and the Board of County Commissioners appoints a Board of Trustees to oversee the operating lease for the land, buildings and equipment to WMC. Neither the Board of County Commissioners nor the Board of Trustees oversee the operations of the hospital. Specifically, WMC has a separate Board of Directors made up of independent, volunteer community members who oversee the day-to-day operations of the hospital and the healthcare services delivered to the residents of our region. 

In order to ensure WMC’s future as Wyoming’s flagship hospital, the County will consider a separate agreement for Banner to purchase the land, buildings and equipment for $157 million that will allow the County to provide a substantial one-time commitment to the WMC foundation, secure more than $120 million that can be invested for the County’s future and eliminate approximately $50 million in debt. Banner’s purchase of the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC from the County will make all of this possible.

As part of the proposal, 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 in the proposed post-closing agreement between Banner and the County. This gives the County the important ability to ensure these commitments are met in full.

5.  Does this mean WMC is selling to Banner?

The structure in the proposed agreement between WMC and Banner is called a membership substitution. Banner will become the sole member of WMC. Ultimately, this structure would allow WMC to become part of Banner Health as the health system’s Wyoming flagship hospital and regional referral center, building on the longstanding roots that Banner has in the state with its three additional rural hospitals – Platte County Memorial Hospital in Wheatland, Community Hospital in Torrington and Washakie Medical Center in Worland. This proposed agreement would result in significant investment in WMC and our healthcare future. 

It’s important to know that Natrona County owns the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC but does not provide funding to the hospital. WMC leases the land, buildings and equipment from the County, and the Board of County Commissioners appoints a Board of Trustees to oversee the operating lease of the land, buildings and equipment to WMC. Neither the Board of County Commissioners nor the Board of Trustees oversee the operations of the hospital. Specifically, WMC has a separate Board of Directors made up of independent, volunteer community members who oversee the day-to-day operations of the hospital and the healthcare services delivered to the residents of our region. 

In order to ensure WMC’s future as Wyoming’s flagship hospital, the County will consider a separate agreement for Banner to purchase the land, buildings and equipment for $157 million that will allow the County to provide a substantial one-time commitment to the WMC foundation, secure more than $120 million that can be invested for the County’s future and eliminate approximately $50 million in debt. Banner’s purchase of the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC from the County will make all of this possible.

Natrona 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 in the proposed post-closing agreement between Banner and the County. This gives the County the important ability to ensure these commitments are met in full.

6.  What is the financial commitment from  Banner?

As a standalone organization, WMC has limited resources to invest on an ongoing basis toward addressing the changing healthcare needs of the people in our communities. The proposed WMC agreement with Banner addresses this significant challenge head-on, providing for the capital investment of a minimum of $100 million over the next 10 years in our healthcare future that would provide the resources needed to improve services. 

In addition, the proposed agreement will result in in one of the largest independent, nonprofit foundations in Wyoming, receiving an initial projected commitment of more than $220 million in 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. These investments will help grow and advance medical care in our region and state in ways that would not be possible otherwise.

7.  How would the County use the proceeds?

The County intends to use the proceeds for future investment in the County and to provide a substantial one-time commitment to the WMC foundation.

8.  What are the key benefits / details of the proposed agreement?

The agreement with Banner would result in a significant financial investment in our County and region’s healthcare future and in our community more broadly. Key elements of the proposed agreement include:

•    Banner would invest a minimum of $100 million over the next 10 years in WMC and its facilities, technology, programs, people and operations to protect and expand access to high-quality local care.

•    One of the largest independent, nonprofit foundations in Wyoming, receiving an initial projected commitment of more than $220 million in funding, including a substantial one-time commitment from the County, 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. These investments will help grow and advance medical care in our region and state in ways that would not be possible otherwise. Importantly, the foundation would receive regular reports from Banner to ensure commitments by Banner are adhered to and fulfilled.

Even more importantly, Banner will positively impact our healthcare future for this generation and generations to come. Specifically, Banner intends to:

•    Preserve and further our nonprofit mission and improve the health of our communities 

•    Ensure WMC’s participation in Medicare and Medicaid and continued access to the 24/7 emergency care, trauma services, women’s care and labor and delivery services WMC offers

•    Care for all patients, regardless of ability to pay, and continue to provide involuntary care, prisoner care and serve the most vulnerable members of the community in accordance with Banner’s financial assistance policies

•    Expand and grow healthcare access and advance medical care in our community, region and state to keep care right here in Wyoming

•    Keep and expand the delivery of medical services through telehealth in rural areas here in Wyoming

•    Develop an integrated network of care with Banner’s three additional Wyoming hospitals 

•    Bring together the best services and business practices of both organizations

•    Sustain financial and operational strength and stability, creating significant growth opportunities

•    Advance clinical capabilities

9.  How will this affect patients and the community?

The agreement with Banner reinforces and advances WMC as a provider of quality healthcare and a sustained economic engine for our community. Patients would continue to have access to all the services and physicians they know today. The goal is to enhance and grow services to minimize our community members having to travel outside of Wyoming for care. 

WMC would continue a nonprofit mission to serve the most vulnerable members of our community and care for all patients, regardless of ability to pay.

The proposed agreement will also result in one of the largest independent, nonprofit foundations in Wyoming, receiving more than $220 million in funding, including a substantial one-time commitment from the County, 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. These investments will help grow and advance medical care in our region and state in ways that would not be possible otherwise. Importantly, the foundation would receive regular reports from Banner to ensure the commitments made by Banner are adhered to and fulfilled.

10.  Can you tell me more about the foundation?  How will this impact our community?

The proposed agreement will result in one of the largest independent, nonprofit foundations in Wyoming, receiving an initial projected commitment of more than $220 million in funding, including a substantial one-time commitment from the County, to focus on healthcare in Natrona County, and providing significant support specifically to WMC on an annual basis to support our facilities and technology, as well as other philanthropic efforts.

The foundation is an exciting opportunity and would be a critical resource for our community, enabling significant investments in the health of the people of our community. It would be overseen by a separate, independent foundation board with representation from community leaders in Natrona County.  

11.  Will WMC’s name change?

No. Wyoming Medical Center would keep its name, and co-brand with Banner over time.

12.  How are we sure these commitments will be met?

As part of the proposal, 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 in the proposed post-closing agreement between Banner and the County. This gives the County the important ability to ensure these commitments are met in full. The foundation would also receive regular, ongoing reports from Banner to ensure commitments by Banner are adhered to and fulfilled.

13.  What are the next steps in the process?  When will the agreement be completed?

First, nothing changes today for employees, physicians, patients and community.

The WMC Board will further consider the agreement with Banner in the coming weeks.

Additionally, it’s important to understand that as the owner of the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC, the County has an important role to play in WMC’s plans to join Banner. The County will consider a separate agreement on August 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm for Banner to purchase the land, buildings and equipment for $157 million that will allow the County to provide a substantial one-time commitment to the WMC foundation, secure more than $120 million that can be invested for the County’s future and eliminate approximately $50 million in debt. Banner’s purchase of the land, buildings and equipment associated with WMC from the County will make all of this possible. Ultimately, the WMC Board and the Board of County Commissioners must each enter into specific agreements with Banner. 

14.  Where can I learn more?

We remain committed to helping our region be the best that it can be and that includes securing the future of healthcare. To learn more, see a list of frequently asked questions or sign up for the latest news, please visit WMCforward.org.