Northside Hospital and Egleston Children's Health System, both in Atlanta, have approved a collaborative agreement that could lead to a merger or joint ventures.
While not a merger, the affiliation creates a vehicle for joint programs in maternity and children's services, advocacy and education, hospital executives said.
"We haven't ruled anything out," said Karen Carlisle, a Northside spokeswoman. "We want to start with educational and advocacy programs and then announce other programs and plans as they come about."
The two hospitals have appointed a 40-member steering committee to review joint ventures that could include managed-care contracting with HMOs and insurers in pediatric and maternity services, Carlisle said.
Northside is a 454-bed tertiary-care hospital with a strong maternity service program, and Egleston operates 235-bed Egleston Children's Hospital at Emory University, 25 pediatric clinics and an HMO. Northside's 11,000 annual deliveries rank it No. 1 among community hospitals in the market, a spokesman said. Egleston is known as one of the top children's hospitals in the country.