Piedmont Healthcare is reaching beyond Atlanta again to acquire Columbus Regional Health, a two-hospital system in the southwest corner of Georgia near the Alabama line.
Piedmont and Columbus announced Tuesday that they intend to merge.
Piedmont is one of Atlanta's largest hospital systems with seven hospitals and $2.9 billion in revenue. The health system said it intends to maintain Columbus as a regional hub with nearly all of the primary-care and specialty services necessary for patients to get care close to home, said Piedmont CEO Kevin Brown in a phone interview.
The deal continues a consolidation push among Atlanta hospital systems and hospitals out of the region that are looking for partners for capital, clinical expertise, economies of scale and population health management.
Through a series of mergers and organic growth over the past two years, Piedmont and three other hospital systems around Atlanta now each generate revenue of more than $2 billion annually. The others are WellStar Health System, Northside Hospital and Emory Healthcare.
Columbus Regional is already built-out with several patient access points, including two hospitals, MyCare Urgent Care Centers and physician offices, Brown said.
Piedmont sees Columbus Regional operating much the same way as another recent acquisition, Athens Regional Medical Center in the hometown of the University of Georgia, Brown said.
Piedmont completed that merger in October and it has supported Athens with some additional cardiac surgeons and completing a giant ambulatory center in the community, Brown said.
"Columbus is a system onto itself," he said.
The city of Columbus is approximately 100 miles southwest of Atlanta.
Columbus, a not-for-profit system like Piedmont, has annual revenue of about $450 million. It selected Piedmont for exclusive merger negotiations from other interested rivals.
"Since last year when we made our initial announcement regarding a potential partnership or affiliation, we have maintained our position of strength financially and we continue to realize improvement across many areas of our health system. We believe that now is the time to combine our strengths through a strategic partnership," said Columbus Regional CEO Scott Hill.
Brown said it's anticipated that Piedmont will absorb Columbus' assets and debt, signaling a full merger.
The health system would continue to have its own board of directors for local decisionmaking.
Brown declined to give details on how much capital Piedmont may provide Columbus for service expansion.