North metro Atlanta hospitals exploring a merger

Two of the largest health systems in metro Atlanta announced Wednesday they will begin negotiations to combine operations.

The merger of Northside Hospital and Gwinnett Medical Center would include more than 16,000 employees and nearly 1,400 beds, according to a statement from Northside. The system would be anchored by Northside Hospital in Sandy Springs and Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville.

Talks of a merger come as hospital systems across the country increasingly look to partner in efforts to improve quality of care, save money and be more efficient in a rapidly changing health care landscape.

“A Northside Hospital and Gwinnett Medical Center combination is a strong and strategic fit on many levels,” Northside CEO Bob Quattrocchi said in a statement. “We come to the table with very similar organizational cultures and unsurpassed commitments to patient safety and quality care.”

If a final agreement is reached, the new system would also include hospitals in Canton, Cumming and Duluth, as well as close to 3,500 physicians on staff, cancer treatment centers, imaging centers, medical office buildings, urgent care centers and other outpatient facilities.

The systems have targeted early 2016 as a potential closing date for the deal. Any proposed transaction will have to be reviewed and approved by the state attorney general, which would include at least one public hearing.

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