The sale of Missoula Community Medical Center to Billings Clinic and Regional Care Hospital Partners was officially closed at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, January 16.

CEO of Billings Clinic, Dr. Nicholas Wolter, made the announcement on Friday that he was enthused about the closing.

"Working with our partner Regional Care and now with Community to look at how we can focus on quality and safety of care," Wolter said. "We'll be looking at how to deal with all the issues of healthcare reform, We're also excited about all the potential this partnership has to really serve the residents of Missoula and the surrounding area well,"

Wolter addressed the criticism by many that Community has transformed from a not-for-profit to a for-profit hospital.

"From our point of view, we want to be sure that appropriate charity care ratios are maintained," he said. "We want to be sure that we try to keep as many jobs in Missoula that we can rather than having those transferred to some other location, I have grown more comfortable with this (the transference from not-for-profit to for-profit) and I've noticed it elsewhere in the country.There are not-for-profits like Billings Clinic partnering with for-profits like Regional Care. For example, there's the Cleveland Clinic is doing a similar partnership with a larger organization called Community Health Partners."

One of the players involved in the purchase of Community Medical Center was Providence Health Care, the parent company of Missoula's St. Patrick Hospital. Even though the two hospitals are now competitors in the Missoula market, Wolter addressed the possibility of working collaboratively in the future.

"I would really like to meet with them," Wolter said. "Let me say that in Billings, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare are competitors, in fact, they're located just two blocks from each other. We have found ways to be competitors, but then have found common ground where we could work together, on things like community health planning, medication assistance for low-income people, and a crisis center for people with drug and alcohol issues. Being competitors can sometimes be beneficial to a community, but it's also possible to find areas where was can really work together, and that would be our goal."

A news release said there are no plans at this time to change the name of Community Medical Center.