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HMC affiliation decision expected today

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Henry Medical Center (HMC) is poised to announce which of two health-care systems will serve as its partner going forward.

A decision is expected, today, on an affiliation with either Emory Healthcare or Piedmont Healthcare, according to the hospital's chief executive officer, Charles F. Scott.

The affiliation decision is expected to be made this afternoon, during HMC's strategic planning session at Eagle's Landing Country Club, according to Donna Braddy, director of marketing, public relations, community education and volunteer services at HMC.

Both Emory and Piedmont have touted their credentials in recent weeks, in an effort to gain favor with local business leaders.

In February, Piedmont Healthcare's chief administrative officer, Ed Lovern, said the affiliation talks signaled a change in the landscape of health care locally. He told a gathering of the Henry Council for Quality Growth (HCQG), that linking with HMC would create jobs, and beneficial relationships between Piedmont Healthcare and Henry County.

"We're very excited about the prospect of working with Henry, and we think that Piedmont's vision, and the way they do business, is really well-designed to have a relationship with Henry," he said. "We've got good experience at doing it in other communities."

As examples, Lovern said Piedmont has established successful affiliations with community hospitals in Atlanta, Newnan, Fayetteville, and Jasper, Ga.

The following month, in March, Emory Healthcare's CEO, John Fox, outlined his vision for a potential affiliation with HMC. Fox focused on his system's desire to make HMC its sole partner on the Southside of Atlanta, through its mission of research, patient care, and education.

"We want to make Henry Medical Center the centerpiece of Georgia's largest health-care system for the Southern Crescent," he said. "We have no distractions. We have no other hospitals that can compete with resources on the Southside. Our goal is to make Henry Medical Center a true medical Mecca that will benefit, tremendously, all the patients and families in the entire community, in Henry County and beyond."

Fox also pointed to his system's economic viability, during an age of health-care reforms, as another reason for being chosen. Emory, he said, has $9.3 billion in total assets, compared with Piedmont's $1.4 billion.

"It's going to be a tumultuous decade," said Fox. "Financial strength, and the ability to weather those storms, are critical for any community to consider."

Charles Scott was on hand for the presentations made by both Emory and Piedmont. Scott said both organizations are "outstanding choices" for affiliating with his hospital.

"We are faced with a very difficult, but, I think, enviable position," said Scott. "Now, it's a matter of weighing both organizations, and trying to make that distinction between [them]."