Saint Joseph's Health System, Piedmont Healthcare Seek Merger

John Commins, April 9, 2010

Atlanta-based Saint Joseph's Health System and Piedmont Healthcare have signed a letter of intent to create a joint operating company (JOC) serving northern Georgia, the two health systems announced.

The JOC would be co-sponsored by the two nonprofit systems, which are expected to complete negotiations within a 90-day due diligence period, and have the JOC in place by the end of the year. The JOC would have separate management and a board comprised of trustees from SJHS and Piedmont, and would operate under the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church.

Both system CEOs said the changing healthcare sector calls for creating a collaborative business model.

"In a constantly changing and complex healthcare environment, a joint operating company with Piedmont Healthcare is a smart, efficient and cost-effective way to provide the best quality of care possible for Georgians," said Kirk G. Wilson, president/CEO of Saint Joseph's, in a media release. "The JOC is a wonderful opportunity to create one of the finest healthcare delivery systems in the country, and we are very excited with the prospect of partnering with Piedmont Healthcare in this effort."

"A joint operating company between Piedmont Healthcare and Saint Joseph's would be a unique partnership between two of the most respected and longest-serving healthcare providers in Georgia," said R. Timothy Stack, president/CEO of Piedmont Healthcare.

If a JOC agreement is reached, Saint Joseph's and Piedmont must get final approval from their respective boards, and the Sisters of Mercy and Catholic Health East, the Archbishop of Atlanta, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Georgia Attorney General.

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1880, Saint Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta is now a 410-bed, acute-care hospital, with a medical staff of more than 750 physicians.

Hospitals in the Piedmont Healthcare system include: Piedmont Hospital, a 481-bed acute tertiary care hospital in the north Atlanta community of Buckhead; Piedmont Fayette Hospital, a 143-bed, acute-care community hospital in Fayetteville; Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, a 42-bed community hospital in Jasper; and Piedmont Newnan Hospital, a 143-bed, acute-care community hospital in Newnan.

Piedmont Healthcare is the parent company of the Piedmont Heart Institute, which has more than 85 cardiovascular specialists at Piedmont Heart Institute Physicians, with more than 30 locations in north Georgia and North Carolina; the Piedmont Physicians Group, with more than 100 primary care physicians in more than 30 offices throughout metro Atlanta; the Piedmont Clinic, a 600-member physician network; and Piedmont Philanthropy, the philanthropic entity for private fundraising initiatives.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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