ISHPEMING, Mich.—LifePoint Hospitals, Brentwood, Tenn., forged its second deal in Michigan in less than a week as the company seeks to build a presence in the state's Upper Peninsula. The publicly traded system made its first purchase in Michigan last year when it acquired Marquette (Mich.) General Hospital in a $483 million deal through its Duke LifePoint Healthcare joint venture with Duke University Health System, Durham, N.C. On March 5, 25-bed Bell Hospital, located about 15 miles away from Marquette General in Ishpeming, signed a letter of intent to be acquired by LifePoint. The agreement with Bell came days after Portage Health said it plans to form a joint venture with LifePoint that will own and operate the 36-bed medical center. Portage Health is located in Hancock, about 100 miles northwest of Marquette. Financial terms were not disclosed for either deal, but in separate releases, the hospitals said joining LifePoint would bring in additional financial and clinical resources. The due diligence and negotiation process is expected to take 60 to 90 days, and the transactions will require approval from Michigan's attorney general. In an interview last year, LifePoint CEO William Carpenter said more deals were likely to follow in the region, in order to build a regional network of hospitals that would refer more-complex patients to Marquette. While Duke LifePoint looks for acquisitions of tertiary-care centers such as Marquette that need an academic partner, the investor-owned chain will continue to focus on community hospitals, which have been its typical target.