WellStar Health System ended negotiations with Emory Healthcare to combine their operations.
The Marietta, Ga.-based system's board chairman said in a news release Tuesday that the decision followed months of talks. The proposed merger did not fit into WellStar's “new strategic direction,” said Gary Miller, chairman of the system's board of trustees. WellStar did not respond to interview requests.
"WellStar has declined to enter the next stage of discussions with Emory University,” Miller said. “We respect Emory University as a leading, international academic medical center. WellStar will accelerate multiple horizontal and vertical integration opportunities with other potential partners.”
Emory Healthcare responded with a statement.
“Emory continues to believe that the proposed combination of Emory Healthcare and WellStar Health System would serve our communities well as a way to extend the benefits of our renowned academic medical center to a larger population of patients in Metro Atlanta, as well as the state of Georgia and beyond,” according to the statement.
The deal, first announced in February, would have combined the two system's largely separate markets under a jointly governed organization. WellStar's chief executive lauded the potential deal as a “merger of equals.”
Emory Healthcare's patient revenue totaled $2.5 billion in Emory University's last fiscal year, which ended last August. WellStar is a slightly smaller organization, by 2014 revenue. The system, which recently announced the planned addition of West Georgia Health, LaGrange, Ga., ended its last fiscal year on June 30, 2014, with $1.6 billion in patient revenue. Wellstar's news release pointed to this acquisition as an example of the community relationship building that's a focus of the system's new leadership.
Wellstar said Candice Saunders would succeed Reynold Jennings as president and CEO starting next month under the system's previously announced succession plan.