Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., signed a letter of agreement to begin exclusive negotiations to buy seven west Tennessee rural hospitals from Methodist Healthcare, Memphis, Tenn. Pending a definitive agreement and regulatory approval, the rural hospital chain would acquire Methodist's hospitals -- 676 beds total -- in Brownsville, Dyersburg, Jackson, Lexington, Martin, McKenzie and Selmer. The sale also would include outpatient and ancillary facilities. Methodist would retain 10-bed Methodist Fayette Hospital in Somerville, Tenn. The system currently operates 14 hospitals serving eastern Arkansas, west Tennessee and north Mississippi. In a written statement, Methodist CEO Gary Shorb said the sale would allow the system to focus on becoming a "major academic research hub." Community Health operates 61 nonurban hospitals in 21 states. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Community Health in talks to buy 7 Tenn. hospitals
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