Piedmont Healthcare and Henry Medical Center announced Wednesday that they had finalized the details of their partnership deal.
The 215-bed Stockbridge hospital will become a subsidiary of Piedmont Healthcare. Piedmont will lease the hospital's facilities and take over day-to-day operations, with oversight by a newly constituted board of directors for Henry Medical Center. Henry County community members and doctors will make up a majority of the board, but Piedmont executives will also serve on it. The facility is owned by the Hospital Authority of Henry County.
Piedmont is expected to take over in January after final regulatory hurdles are cleared.
Under the plan, Piedmont will provide care to uninsured patients and relieve Henry's county government of its obligation to pay $6 million a year for indigent care. Piedmont will also guarantee existing bond debt, make capital investments and develop a plan to expand clinical services.
The deal was prompted by years of financial losses at Henry Medical Center. The partnership is also part of a trend of consolidation in Atlanta's hospital market.
Piedmont spokeswoman Nina Day said the system has brought financial stability to other hospitals that were losing money before partnering with Piedmont. “There are lots of benefits and lots of value and lots of economies to be gained through some consolidation in the market,” Day said.
The deal with Henry will add a fifth hospital to the Piedmont system. In addition to its flagship hospital in Buckhead, Piedmont operates hospitals in Fayetteville, Jasper and Newnan.
While the Henry community will get financial relief, local leaders are also expecting access to improved medical care. Experts said it's too early to say whether the community will benefit.
"We're in a brave new world in many ways," said Bill Custer, a Georgia State University health care expert. "We see new organizations and new affiliations arise that have the potential to make the local residents better off. But exactly how they're going to work and what's going to happen for those local residents, we just don't know yet."
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