Adventist Health System, University Community Health May Merge

John Commins, April 1, 2010

Winter Park, FL-based Adventist Health System and University Community Health in Tampa Bay have signed a non-binding letter of intent to explore a possible merger, the two health systems announced jointly. The move is part of a growing consolidation trend that analysts predict will occur over the next few years.

"It is too early in the due diligence process to share any concrete details," said Mike Schultz, president/CEO of Adventist Health System's Florida Region, in the joint statement. "What I can confirm is that both systems are focused on uninterrupted quality care to our patients and dedicated to the service of our employees."

AHS and UCH formed a joint venture in February 2007 to build the 80-bed Wesley Chapel Medical Center, a community hospital and healthcare complex in Pasco County. That relationship prompted both organizations to consider a full merger, the health systems said.

"After working so closely together on the joint venture for the past three years, we have decided to explore opportunities that allow us to deliver heightened healthcare services to our expanding patient population. It helps that we already are working together and have like-minded missions that stress patient-centered service," said Norm Stein, president/CEO of UCH, in the release.

"AHS and UCH are committed to enhancing the accessibility and quality of medical care to the Tampa Bay area," said Don Jernigan, president/CEO of Adventist. "Long-term planning is essential to the success of healthcare systems and we believe our patients, employees, and communities will all be blessed from bringing these systems together."

Adventist Health System is the largest nonprofit Protestant healthcare provider in the nation, operating 37 hospitals in 12 states, with more than 6,600 beds, and 50,000 employees serving four million patients annually. Adventist operates 17 hospitals in Florida.

Nonprofit University Community Health operates five community hospitals in the Tampa Bay area, including University Community Hospital, UCH-Carrolwood and Pepin Heart Hospital in Tampa, Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs, and the long-term acute care hospital in central Pasco County.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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