DeKalb Medical appears to be nearing the end of its search to find a partner. The struggling not-for-profit system has signed a letter of intent that may soon put it under the umbrella of Emory Healthcare, pending regulatory approval.
Neither organization provided financial terms, but both describe the move as a strategic partnership that will allow them to grow and expand services to comunities in DeKalb County, Georgia. Decatur, Georgia-based DeKalb Medical has been pursuing a membership substitution, acquisition or merger throughout 2017, according to financial disclosure documents.
Robert E. Wilson, DeKalb Medical's president and CEO, wrote in a statement that the partnership will strengthen his organization's ability to deliver quality, community-based care.
"We are excited about the future," he said.
DeKalb Medical includes three hospitals in DeKalb County and 50 physician offices. It has a medical staff of more than 800 physicians in 49 specialties. Representatives with the system did not return a request seeking comment.
Dr. Jonathan S. Lewin, CEO of Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare, emphasized the organizations' commitment to the community in a statement announcing the move.
"We understand the importance of both community hospitals and academic medical centers in delivering optimal care to our patients," he said. "A partnership with DeKalb Medical will strategically support these efforts."
Emory is an integrated academic healthcare system and the clinical arm of Emory University's Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center. It has seven hospitals and nearly 60 urgent care clinics in metro Atlanta and 200 clinics statewide.
Definitive agreements have not yet been signed. Emory spokeswoman Holly Korschun said the partnership needs approval from the Georgia Attorney General, the state's Department of Community Health and the Federal Trade Commission, and will likely be finalized in spring 2018.
DeKalb Medical ended its fiscal 2017 with an operating loss of $22 million, compared with $20.3 million the year before, according to Modern Healthcare's financial database. It had $191 million in long-term debt as of June. The system laid off 60 people a year ago, around the same time its former CEO resigned, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.