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Community Health Systems continues dump of assets, unloads medical office buildings

CHS has been offloading hospitals for months now, with the current tally reaching 19 that have been or will be sold.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Just before Christmas, Community Health Systems announced that they have sold 10 medical office buildings to real estate company HCP Inc. for $163 million. It's the latest move by CHS to cut into its debt by dumping hospitals and other medical facilities.

CHS said it is leasing back the properties from HCP. The buildings take up a combined 750,000 square feet of space spread out over five states.

The company has been shedding hospitals and other assets at a feverish pace this year in an effort to raise $1.2 billion to pay off its debt. Earlier in December, CHS announced its intention to sell two hospitals in Washington for $45 million, adding to the 17 hospitals that were already on the block as of November.

[Also: Struggling CHS to sell off home health, hospice division for $128 million]

The system has been struggling since 2014, when it went forward with a $7.3 billion acquisition of Health Management Associates. Patient volumes at former HMA hospitals have been on the downturn, and the resultant increase in doctor recruitment has strained the company's resources.

In October, CHS announced it will sell an 80 percent ownership interest in its home health division to regional provider Almost Family for $128 million.

[Also: CHS will unload 2 more hospitals as revenue continues to drop]

CHS netted $1.2 billion from its spinoff of nearly 40 small or rural hospitals earlier this year, but that transaction is now under legal scrutiny, after a class-action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of those that purchased the common stock of CHS spin-off Quorum Health Corp. The complaint alleges, among other things, that Quorum failed to disclose to investors that many of Quorum's hospitals were underperforming at the time of the spin-off.

Twitter: @JELagasse