Samaritan has eye on Millersburg

The Samaritan logo, a familiar sight all over the mid-valley. (This one's in North Albany.)

Samaritan Health Services may be cutting back on expenses, but it's also looking to the future, and it sees part of that future in Millersburg. That's according to a proposed three-way property-and-road agreement between the city of Millersburg, Samaritan and Linn County.

The Millersburg City Council unanimously approved the agreement in March. It's a memorandum of understanding that outlines steps each of the three partners is to take. If all the steps are taken, the east end of Morningstar Road will be relocated to connect with Old Salem Road right across from where the Love's truck stop is planned. The county board of commissioners has yet to act on the pact. Whether Samaritan has signed it, I don't know.

The new alignment of Morningstar would allow better access to property Samaritan wants to acquire for what, according to the Jan. 10 minutes of the Millersburg council, was described as a "regional medical center."

Everybody I talked to about this has been vague about the nature and timing of this venture. When I asked Samaritan CEO Larry Mullins about the Millersburg project, his response (on Friday) was an email that thanked me for asking and added: "We are always interested in exploring ways in which we can locate health and medical services where they can best serve our region."

Under the agreement approved by Millersburg in March, the city will pay one-third (up to $125,000) and Samaritan two-thirds (up to $300,000) for the acquisition of a parcel fronting Old Salem Road, needed to reroute Morningstar Road. Linn County is to build the new alignment and then turn it over to the city's jurisdiction.

Based in Corvallis, Samaritan runs a regional network of hospitals, clinics, senior-care centers and related facilities in Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties. Its service territory, which also covers portions of Polk and Marion counties, comprises about 290,000 residents. The not-for-profit enterprise had total revenue of $159 million and expenses of $160 million in 2014, the latest year for which the organization's federal Form 990 (return for nontaxable entities) is available online. The numbers, however, apparently cover only a fraction of the operation, for the form lists only 1,074 Samaritan employees. A report in the Corvallis Gazette-Times on March 30 said Samaritan employs more than 5,500.

The G-T story reported that Samaritan had announced austerity measures including a hiring freeze and reductions on capital spending to help make up for a reduction in the number of Medicaid patients. No word on whether that has any effect on whatever Samaritan is envisioning in Millersburg. (hh)





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