Two not-for-profit healthcare systems serving the Carolinas said they may link under a management contract.
Roper CareAlliance in Charleston, S.C., said it is negotiating a one-year management contract with Charlotte, N.C.-based Carolinas HealthCare System, the largest regional provider serving the two states. A decision on the deal is expected in the next week or two, officials said. Terms weren't disclosed.
"We have been reviewing a variety of options for Roper for some time," said Julian Buxton, chairman of Roper's board. "In these days of managed-care contracting, it is important to be aligned with a strong partner."
Roper's Charleston-area network includes Roper Hospital, Roper Hospital North, Roper Rehabilitation Hospital and Charleston Long Term Care Hospital. Also in the system are a 60-member physician group, a 450-member independent practice association, 10 diagnostic centers, five outpatient centers and a home-care agency.
The current negotiations are one of several Roper has pursued in recent years to secure its position in the region and beat back advances of for-profit chains.
Last year, Roper Hospital discussed merging with Charleston's Bon Secours-St. Francis Xavier Hospital, but the talks between the unlikely partners fell apart. Though the hospitals had joined in an unsuccessful counterbid against Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s proposal to lease Charleston's university hospital, they had also waged a certificate-of-need battle over the building of a new acute-care hospital in a suburban area of Charleston (Aug. 19, 1996, p. 17).
In 1995, Roper jumped from VHA, an Irving, Texas-based not-for-profit hospital alliance, to rival SunHealth Alliance in Charlotte, now part of Premier, in another effort to strengthen its system against encroaching for-profit chains (Aug. 28, 1995, p. 18).
Buxton said a deal with Carolinas HealthCare would "improve our ability to win managed-care contracts and bring additional resources to the management of our facilities."
Carolinas HealthCare operates 18 acute-care, rehabilitation and behavioral healthcare hospitals in North Carolina and South Carolina. The system also runs seven nursing homes, a 400-member physician network and a managed-care company.
Harry Nurkin, president and chief executive officer of Carolinas HealthCare, said a management contract with Roper would help not-for-profits compete>