A pending sale on Pioneer Valley Hospital is expected to be complete at the end of October, Paracelsus Healthcare Corp. vice president of operations George Asbell said Thursday.

Paracelsus, a hospital chain based in Pasadena, Calif., signed a letter of intent to purchase the 14-year-old hospital late last week. Pioneer's chief executive officer, Brian Mottishaw, said Paracelsus was one of four health-care groups to visit the hospital during a July open house.Columbia/HCA, the hospital's current owner, refused to disclose how many bids had come in on the property. It also refused to divulge monetary terms of the deal, which is actually a facilities exchange. Pioneer, located at 3460 S. 4155 West, is a 139-bed facility.

In April, Nashville-based Columbia merged with HealthTrust Inc., also of Nashville, to become the nation's largest provider of health-care services. A condition of the merger, approved by the Federal Trade Commission, is that Columbia sell seven of its hospitals. The FTC agreement requires Columbia, a New York Stock Exchange company, to divest its three Salt Lake City-Ogden-area hospitals by the start of 1996. The four remaining hospitals pending sale are in Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

"It's been a long time since the announcement (of divestiture). There's been a lot of uncertainty with the medical staff," Mottishaw said. "If we had to leave Columbia, we feel this is an excellent company for us to go with."

Mottishaw added that Pioneer's 12-member board of directors hasn't had any contact with Paracelsus, "but we're sure excited (about them coming)."

Paracelsus Healthcare owns and operates 21 hospitals in California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas. Pioneer Valley will be its first entry into the Utah market. Paracelsus will also acquire Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, if the FTC approves the sale.

"We're looking to close by Oct. 31, or Nov. 30 at latest," Asbell said. He admitted there is "some money involved" in the exchange - "a lot" - but said he's not sure how much because the groups haven't disclosed that information.

"We're looking forward to coming. We're very impressed with the people we've seen and talked with," Asbell said. "(We selected this West Valley location) because the hospital was there. The facility has good up-side potential in a growing area. We think we can go in and do more with it."

Robert Joyner, a vice president at Paracelsus, said the company has no interest in cutting services, but adding services is a likely possibility. Asbell said Paracelsus would be in town next week to start fact-finding in the community.

"This is excellent," said City Manager John Patterson, a member of Pioneer's board of directors. "It's gonna be good. It means an infusion of new dollars into the hospital and a fresh outlook. People at the hospital are excited about them coming and bringing their community-oriented style to West Valley."