St. Mary's Health System to merge with Baptist Health System

St. Mary's Health System to merge with Baptist Health System

August 29, 2007

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- St. Mary's Heath System and Baptist Health System officials have announced a plan to merge by signing a letter of intent.

The boards of directors for both health systems authorized the letter of intent Tuesday in separate meetings.

No decisions have been made yet on the name of the merged system but it will employ more than 6,000 people and have a combined medical staff of about 800 physicians. It's also expected to generate $600 million in net revenue.

Debra London, President and CEO of St. Mary's, will lead the merged system. Janice James, acting CEO of Baptist, will stay on in a supporting, interim capacity." 

The boards of the health systems will merge and control of Baptist Health System will stay in Knoxville.

In a Q&A sent to employees of both health systems Tuesday, officials say, "In the interim period, there should be no impact on the staff."

The Q&A goes on to say, "It is way too early to speculate on staffing decisions. However, both parties have agreed to a full and fair assessment of positions in both organizations."

Many current operating managers at Baptist are Wellspring employees working on a temporary basis. Officials say the status of the Wellspring positions will be up to the merged organization. 

The joint Q&A also says officials don't expect any closings of individual campuses "in the near term" but their planning process will consider the best use of all facilities.

"This merger will bring together two groups who express their faith differently, but who share the same common mission and spiritual values. This shared mission will result in a more efficient, effective and competitive system, better able to meet the needs of all members of the communities we serve," said Debra London, President and CEO of St. Mary's, and Janice James, acting CEO of Baptist, in a joint statement.

Assuming the merger receives regulatory approvals, health system officials expect the merger to take effect by January 1, 2008 or before.

Financially ailing Baptist has been seeking to restructure its management for several months.

A deal with Texas-based Triad Hospitals, a for-profit hospital group, fell through several months after it was announced in June 2006.

Baptist owns four hospitals in Knoxville and Newport, Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee, Baptist Hospital West, Baptist Hospital for Women, Baptist Hospital of Cocke County.

St. Mary's operates St. Mary's Medical Center, St. Mary's North, St. Mary's Center of Campbell County, and St. Mary's Jefferson Memorial Hospital.

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