No Two not-for-profit hospital systems in Nashville are bailing out of plans to form a much-ballyhooed alliance.
The "virtual merger" of Baptist Hospital and Saint Thomas Health Services would have created an extensive network serving middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky.
Officials at 649-bed Baptist and 514-bed Saint Thomas remained mum about the reasons for the parting, which they described as amicable.
"I doubt if we want to elaborate," said Debby Koch, spokeswoman for Baptist, which owns three other hospitals in Tennessee.
The Federal Trade Commission cleared the deal earlier this year. The state attorney general's office was conducting its own antitrust review.
Control of the alliance may have been the one issue the two large systems couldn't resolve.
In a joint statement released May 13, the hospitals said they "made a good-faith effort to bring together two complex organizations under one governing body."
Baptist and Saint Thomas, which is owned by Daughters of Charity National Health System, announced their intent to form a mergerlike partnership in July. Under the agreement, the two would have formed a parent company to operate them jointly. Each hospital would have retained its own assets.
David Stringfield, Baptist's president and chief executive officer, was set to be chairman of the parent company. John Tighe, president and CEO of Saint Thomas, was to be the temporary CEO of the parent company.
At the time the letter of intent was signed, Tighe and Stringfield said they wanted to form the partnership to increase access to patients and to create a more efficient structure between the hospitals and managed-care plans (July 7, 1997, p. 15).
The proposed deal had generated speculation locally that Saint Thomas might be gearing up to buy the financially struggling Baptist, which both hospitals emphatically denied (Oct. 6, 1997, p. 42).
The hospitals said they would continue the joint ventures they already share, including co-ownership of Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro, HealthNet HMO and two physician groups.
Stringfield and Tighe declined to be interviewed for this story.
This marks the second time in recent years that Saint Thomas has failed to secure a local partnership.
Merger talks between Saint Thomas and another local not-for-profit powerhouse, 609-bed Vanderbilt University Medical Center, broke down in June 1996 after the two hospitals couldn't align their interests.