The proposed merger of West Georgia Health, a single-hospital system in LaGrange, and WellStar Health System, the state's largest not-for-profit community health system, is expected to improve access to healthcare services and provide long-term financial stability to West Georgia, according to a feasibility report.
The report determined that the merger would enhance West Georgia's ability to develop services, recruit physicians, and secure its financial health because it would be supported by the large Marietta, Ga.-based not-for-profit health system.
The merger is expected to improve healthcare access because WellStar “has the resources necessary to bring advanced-care models to West Georgia's service area,” according to the assessment.
The report also states that because West Georgia is a regional community hospital, a partnership with WellStar would allow the hospital to provide tertiary services such as neurosurgery as healthcare shifts toward an integrated-care model.
Although West Georgia is financially stable, its operating loss increased from $4.1 million in 2011 to $8.1 million in 2013. The merger is expected to secure the hospital's financial health because “by sharing resources with a larger organization, West Georgia will be able to manage costs and compete on the basis of quality more effectively,” according to the report.
The 412-bed hospital has also had difficulty recruiting physicians. A 2012 analysis determined the health system would need 20 more specialty physicians by 2017. The report asserted WellStar could address the need because of its robust access to physician recruiters and training programs.
Similar to most community hospitals that choose to merge with a large health system, West Georgia anticipated it could not remain viable as healthcare shifts to a value-based payment model, the report states.
As part of the deal, WellStar would take on West Georgia's obligations and no money would be exchanged.
The state's attorney general office is expected to decide on the deal by March 31.