Efforts by Atlanta's Emory University and Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. to create one of the nation's largest medical center-based networks broke down last week.
A difference in business approaches and Emory's concern about Columbia/HCA's aggressive expansion efforts apparently led the university to terminate the partnership discussions.
The network would have joined Columbia/HCA's eight Atlanta-area hospitals and 19 clinics with one of Emory's two hospitals, eight clinics and 668-member group practice (May 30, p. 10).
Spokespersons for the university and Columbia/HCA declined to comment on the specifics of why negotiations fell apart. But they indicated the parting was amicable and that each system will move to develop integrated networks with other, unspecified hospital groups.
In a statement, university officials said they "foresaw insurmountable complications in connection with the relationship and became deeply concerned that (the university) could not appropriately link itself with a corporate entity still in the process of further growth and formation."
Earlier this month, Louisville, Ky.-based Columbia/HCA announced plans to acquire 116-hospital Healthtrust, Nashville, Tenn., in a $5.6 billion deal.
"Universities are not in the same business as major corporations for divesting, acquiring and moving around," said Curt Carlson, associate vice president for university relations.
Columbia/HCA executives, who previously stated the company's intentions of striking similar deals with at least 17 medical centers, said they were disappointed.
"We plan to grow in this market and, throughout our company, will continue building strong relationships with academic medical centers," said Gene Fleming, president of Columbia/HCA's 10-state eastern group.
Columbia/HCA will look for a tertiary-care hospital in Atlanta to complement its metropolitan network, Mr. Fleming said. "Our intent is to develop one of the most outstanding, fully integrated networks in Georgia."