Baptist Medical Center in Montgomery, Ala., is the third member of the triumvirate of not-for-profit systems that wants to buy a block of hospitals from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
Sources say the 357-bed hospital has aligned with Alliant Health System in Louisville, Ky., and Novant Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., to acquire a chunk of Columbia's 45-hospital Atlantic Group in the southeast (May 4, p. 4).
The consortium is preparing to pay more than $1 billion for a number of those facilities, 22 of which are in Alabama, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Baptist President and Chief Executive Officer Michael DeBoer did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Columbia spokesman Jeff Prescott would only say that the company has received inquiries about a number of facilities in the Atlantic Group.
Earlier this month, Columbia announced a change in its divestiture plans. Instead of spinning off its Atlantic Group hospitals into a separate, publicly traded company, it plans to keep some of the Atlantic Group facilities and sell the others.
Based on geography, Baptist's involvement in the three-state consortium makes strategic sense. Of the eight Alabama hospitals originally placed in Columbia's Atlantic division, two are in Montgomery: Columbia East Montgomery Medical Center and Montgomery Regional Medical Center.
Sources said Baptist also is seeking other not-for-profit healthcare partners in the state to which it would sell or syndicate ownership in some of the hospitals it picks up in the deal. Mentioned as potential partners were Huntsville (Ala.) Hospital and Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence, Ala. Columbia has Atlantic division hospitals in both Florence and Huntsville: Columbia Florence Hospital and Columbia Medical Center of Huntsville.
At deadline, executives at Huntsville and Eliza Coffey hadn't returned phone calls.