AvMed-Santa Fe, a Gainesville, Fla.-based integrated healthcare system, may sell interests in its six hospitals to either Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. or 545-bed Shands Hospital at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
"We are in discussions with Columbia and Shands about a partnership arrangement," said Marilyn Tubbs, an AvMed spokeswoman. "The talks are very preliminary."
Tubbs declined to discuss AvMed's options but indicated they could include a sale, partnership or affiliation. She said AvMed hopes to review proposals from Columbia and Shands soon and make a selection during the next several months.
AvMed's six hospitals have 700 beds. The company also operates one of the state's largest HMOs, other health plans and outpatient services. The HMO, AvMed Health Plan, has 265,000 enrollees and contracts with more than 110 hospitals, including Columbia facilities and Shands.
"Our strategic plan, revised in 1994, calls for us to grow the HMO and forge collaborative relationships with our hospitals," Tubbs said.
Founded in 1969 as Av-Med, which was short for Aviation Medicine, the company was launched as a medical organization to serve the airline industry in Miami. It later became AvMed Health Plan, a commercial HMO. AvMed's 1986 merger with Santa Fe Healthcare, which operated the hospitals, made the company Florida's first integrated delivery system.
AvMed's largest hospital is 405-bed Alachua General Hospital, a former county hospital in Gainesville. Its other five hospitals are smaller facilities located in central Florida near Gainesville.
Last month AvMed joined American Healthcare Systems to become part of an alliance that includes hospital-based systems with strong managed-care components (May 1, p. 4).
Columbia, Shands Hospital vie to buy into six-hospital Gainesville system