Their previous attempt to join forces fizzled two years ago, but three of the six private, acute-care hospitals in Charleston, S.C., have finally come together under one management company.
Charleston-based CareAlliance Health Services, the management company, is overseeing 147-bed Bon Secours-St. Francis Hospital, 398-bed Roper Hospital and 104-bed Roper Hospital North.
The hospitals, which closed the deal July 31, will retain their assets and governing boards.
The deal eliminates competition between Charleston's private, not-for-profit hospitals and consolidates 42% of the city's nonfederal acute-care beds.
CareAlliance has brought in as a partner Charlotte, N.C.-based Carolinas HealthCare Systems, which owns or leases 16 hospitals in North and South Carolina. Carolinas, which already had a management contract with the Roper hospitals, also has a financial stake in CareAlliance.
The CareAlliance management takeover has been in the works since mid-1997. But it isn't the first attempt at teaming up for Bon Secours-St. Francis, owned by Bon Secours Health System of Marriottsville, Md., and the Roper hospitals, owned by the Medical Society of South Carolina.
Several years ago the three hospitals formed a joint development company called Lowcountry Health System to fight Nashville-based Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., which entered the Charleston market through its 1994 acquisition of Hospital Corporation of America.
Lowcountry suffered a major defeat in February 1996 when Columbia won the contract to manage Charleston's Medical University of South Carolina health system, which includes one Charleston hospital and two satellite facilities. Lowcountry dissolved soon after that.
In August 1996, the Medical Society sued Columbia and MUSC in an attempt to block their 30-year lease deal, valued at $1 billion.
In February a Charleston circuit court judge sided with the Medical Society, ruling the lease deal was invalid because it wasn't properly approved by the state. MUSC appealed to the state Supreme Court in May.