Knox Baptist Considering All Options

Knoxville (AP) -- Officials at Baptist Hospital in Knoxville say they will consider all options to improve finances.

A hospital official Steve Clapp says those would include talks with Covenant Health, which had previously been excluded from consideration for possible antitrust issues.

Covenent operates five acute care hospitals in the region, including Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. It also has a number of clinics, hospice care and rehabilitation services.

Baptist Health Systems is facing declining revenue and has debt of about $193 million.

Asked specifically about Covenant, Baptist Senior Vice President Steve Clapp said Baptist would be "open to talking."

In a conference call with bondholders last week, interim Chief Financial Officer Steve Hobbs said the hospital had a $15 million loss in the first seven months of fiscal year 2007, nearly four times the deficit of a year ago.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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