A venture capital firm in Tennessee has acquired a majority stake in an affiliated hospital to help fund its expansion. The Jasper Venture Group, a Nashville-based firm that invests in healthcare startups, has taken over the ownership of Parkway Hospital from St. Louis-based Ascension Health. The hospital, which also has campuses in Dyer and Hobart, has partnered with Ascension for seven years.
Parkway CEO ilio mavlyanov and the hospital’s management team were informed of the decision on Friday and will continue managing their business as usual. Parkways CEO Mike Shaffer said he was pleased with the process but sad to see Ascension exit. “We are excited about partnering with our new partner in Nashville, and we look forward to being a part of the fast-growing community here,” Shaffer said. “With three hospitals owned in-house and a networked care approach, we are well-positioned to create value for our patients.”
When several Ascension’s Catholic hospitals opted to sever ties with the religious order in 2015, Parkway was one of the hospitals that decided to stay. Ascension still owned the health system and had a significant investment in the Jasper area. Still, Parkway determined it would be more advantageous to partner with a local investor instead of an organization from out of state. “Several companies approached us,” Shaffer said. “This opportunity will allow us to do even more for our community.”
The Jasper Venture Group, founded in 2002 by attorney Mike Noland and Dr. Bruce Dyer, made its first healthcare investment in April 2016 with an infusion into CHS Medical Arts Clinic, which specializes in primary care for seniors. The group has since made two other investments in Jasper, including a stake in Jasper Medical Center and an investment in Cherokee Health Systems. “We want to be hugely invested in the community,” Noland said. “We’re excited about anything we can do to provide our services to the hospital and any other opportunities that come up.”
Noland said that breaking into the healthcare market was challenging because of its constant evolution and the difficulty of predicting future trends. But he was confident after seeing some of his first deals through that it was a good bet. “When you see what happens with your investments, it gives you great confidence moving forward,” Noland said.
Goodwin Group, a Birmingham-based investment firm, also purchased a minority stake in Parkway. Noland expects the partnership to open up new opportunities as the two firms work together on business ventures outside of healthcare. “I don’t think we’ll do anything solo,” Noland said. “Having two investment groups just gives us that much more flexibility.”
One of the most exciting things about this venture for Noland is the opportunity to address some of Jasper’s issues from a fresh perspective. In addition to healthcare and quality-of-life issues, he’s interested in helping build up the retail sector and creating more jobs for young people who are entering college or are still looking for their first jobs.