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HMA deal could alter healthcare in Knoxville

Knoxville News Sentinel, May 10, 2011

When Mercy Health Partners disclosed last week that it was negotiating exclusively with Health Management Associates to sell its seven hospitals, the community caught a glimpse of what could be coming - the potential shift from a faith-based, not-for-profit system with roots deeply grounded in Knoxville to a publicly traded company based in Naples, FL, with dozens of properties in 15 states. The last for-profit hospital in East Tennessee left 20 years ago when HCA Park West, now Parkwest Medical Center, was sold to Covenant Health predecessor Fort Sanders Alliance. Since then, Mercy, which was formed through the merger of Baptist and St. Mary's health systems in 2008, Covenant Health and the University of Tennessee Medical Center have continued to vie for business in a highly competitive healthcare marketplace. Unable to overcome a large debt load and poor revenue, Mercy is resting its future on a new owner.