Portland's Val Med now can take its hospital gear global

A $3 million buyout of Val Med Corp., a Northwest Portland company that designs hospital operating rooms, will boost the firm's work force and open international markets for its services, a company official said.

Val Med, founded in 1979, was acquired by Conmed Corp., a $429 million, worldwide maker of surgical and other medical devices based in Utica, N.Y.

The businesses, which will operate as Conmed Integrated Systems, will be able to supply 'virtually every piece of equipment and product that any surgical unit would need,' said Randall Blaum, Val Med's director of marketing. 'The merger gave us access to the hundreds of products that Conmed offers.'

He said Val Med designs operating rooms 'from the ground up,' with such state-of-the-art features as ceiling-mounted equipment that hides cables and other electrical wires; digital flat-screen monitors, which help track all aspects of the operation; and a central control system, called a Nurse's Assistant, that allows an operating room manager to keep tabs on all equipment in the room, from vital-sign monitors to lighting.

The Portland firm also develops software for hospitals and customizes the layout of operating rooms, recovery rooms and other surgical areas.

The 'integrated operating rooms' save money and time, Blaum said. Operating room workers 'aren't running around,' and surgeries take less time.

'It can improve patients' odds of having a successful surgery and reduce the risk of infections,' he said.

Previous marketing agreements between Val Med and Conmed (Nasdaq CNMD), led to the December merger, said Robert Shallish, Conmed vice president of finance.

At the same time as the Val Med buyout, Conmed acquired NorTrex Medical Ltd. of Montreal, which makes ceiling-mounted 'arms' for hospitals' critical-care units. It, too, was a $3 million deal.

Conmed expects the acquisitions to bring in an additional $5 million to $8 million in sales in 2003, a company statement said.

The acquired companies are now divisions of Conmed. The 15-member Val Med staff will remain in Portland, Blaum said. The company expects to add seven employees within 60 days. Similarly, NorTrex will be a Conmed subsidiary and remain in Montreal.

Val Med founder Val Spoljaric retired as Val Med's president when Conmed bought the company. His son, Darko Spoljaric, formerly Val Med's executive vice president, was named president of Conmed's U.S. operations.

Blaum said Val Med has designed operating rooms for Portland area hospitals, including Oregon Health & Science University, Legacy Emanuel, Providence St. Vincent, Portland Providence and Meridian Park in Tualatin.

At the end of September, Conmed reported third-quarter sales of $113.3 million, an 8 percent increase over the same quarter in 2001. Its stock had a 52-week high of $27.10 last May and a low of $15.46 in June. Friday, Conmed's stock closed at $20 per share.

'One of the best things about this merger is (that) it allows a Portland company to go international,' Blaum said. 'We couldn't do that before.'

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