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Board to enter negotiations for sale of Hyden hospital

The Frontier Nursing Service board of governors decided Wednesday to enter into negotiations with a buyer for Hyden's Mary Breckinridge Hospital, its home health agency and several rural clinics.

The non-profit organization can't say with whom it's negotiating because of a confidentiality agreement, said Jeff Buckley, vice president of Louisville's Alliant Management, a company that was brought in to run the hospital in July.

If the sale negotiations fall through "there is a backup suitor" that will be considered, he said. The process could be a long one, Buckley said. "It's not exactly like buying a hardware store."

Between 60 and 70 people have been laid off at the hospital recently, leaving around 170 employees. Hyden's population is 350.

There have also been wage reductions and other cost cutting, Buckley said.

Mary Breckinridge Hospital's problems are not unlike those of health-care organizations across the country during a recession, Buckley said.

"Frontier Nursing Service decided that they wanted to devote their time, energy and resources to the nursing and midwifery school," also in Leslie County; the nursing and midwifery school will not be sold, Buckley said.