Northwest Georgia Health System and Piedmont Hospital are discussing a merger that would create Atlanta's largest regional healthcare system with eight hospitals and 1,762 beds.
Executives of Northwest Georgia and Piedmont said a decision whether to merge could be reached in the next three to six months.
Northwest Georgia was formed as a holding company last year through the affiliation of four public county hospitals in northwestern metropolitan Atlanta (March 22, 1993, p. 4). It recently reached affiliation agreements with three county hospitals in the Atlanta-area communities of Dallas, Canton and Woodstock.
Piedmont is a 500-bed, not-for-profit community facility in northeast At lanta. It has an open-heart surgery program that one of the Northwest Georgia hospitals, Kennestone Hos pital in Marietta, has been trying unsuccessfully to win state approval to begin.
"This is a response to the marketplace and healthcare reform," said Bernie Brown, Northwest Georgia's president and chief executive officer. "We are going to have to be more efficient and productive. It will give us a good geographic distribution of services."
The system would employ 8,100 workers, generate net patient revenues of more than $500 million and include a medical staff of 1,500 physicians, Mr. Brown said.
Atlanta's second-largest system is Emory University, which operates three hospitals with about 1,400 beds.
Columbia Healthcare Corp. operates five hospitals in the Atlanta market with 1,000 beds, a company spokeswoman said. Columbia would operate the state's largest system with 14 hospitals and 2,575 beds if its proposed merger with Hospital Corporation of America is approved.