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Hospital becomes part of largest U.S. chain

EGRMC: No effect on local operations

Hospital becomes part of largest U.S. chain

Hospital becomes part of largest U.S. chain


The $7.6 billion purchase of Health Management Associates by Community Health Systems makes East Georgia Regional Medical Center an affiliate of the largest for-profit chain of hospitals in the United States.

Naples, Fla.-based HMA owned, leased or managed 71 hospitals in 15 states, with 11,000 licensed beds. After the purchase, which became final Jan. 27, Brentwood, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems holds or manages 206 hospitals, with 31,000 beds, in 29 states. In the case of EGRMC, the ownership is partial. The hospital was owned in a joint venture between HMA and a group of physicians, and the doctors still own part, now in affiliation with Community Health Systems.

The change in corporate ownership will have no effect on the 650 employees of 150-bed EGRMC, according an emailed response provided by the hospital’s marketing director, Jill Cairney.

“The transaction does not impact local operations. East Georgia Regional Medical Center will continue to operate under the same name,” the hospital’s CEO, Bob Bigley, said in a news release.

The hospital, he added, will continue to participate in the same managed-care contracts and government reimbursement programs.

“Most importantly,” Bigley said, “the community will continue to receive the high-quality care they have come to expect from the nurses, physicians and employees they already know and trust.”

However, the local hospital officials said they are excited about EGRMC being part of Community Health Systems and potentially benefitting from the chain’s size.

“We will benefit from having an affiliation with more than 200 hospitals,” Bigley said. “This will allow us to engage in best clinical practices so that we are constantly improving patient care.”

Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn., remains the nation’s largest hospital company in terms of annual revenue, The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville stated in reporting the purchase. But Community Health Systems Inc. is now the largest company in number of facilities.

Beckers Hospital Review, in 2012, listed HCA as operating 164 hospitals, followed by Community Health Systems with 134 and HMA with 71. HCA’s website now states that the company owns 165 hospitals.

After the acquisition, CHS has five affiliated hospitals in Georgia: Barrow Regional Medical Center in Winder, Fannin Regional Hospital in Blue Ridge, Clearview Regional Medical Center in Monroe, Trinity Hospital of Augusta and East Georgia Regional Medical Center.

A timeline of Community Health Systems’ history, available at www.chs.net, shows that the corporation has grown rapidly since its purchase of its first hospital in 1985 and an initial public offering in 1991. Valued at $1.1 billion in a 1996 leveraged buyout, the company was taken public a second time in 2000 with its introduction on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CYH. It nearly doubled in size with its 2007 purchase of Triad Hospitals Inc., which then had more than 50 hospitals.

As part of the acquisition of HMA, Community Health Systems filed a disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding ongoing federal investigations at both companies. But the SEC did not block the acquisition.

Community Health Systems paid $3.9 billion in cash and stock value for HMA, but also assumed $3.7 billion of debt from HMA, making the net value of the purchase $7.6 billion.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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