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Henry Medical Center chooses Piedmont Healthcare

Special Photo
Officials at Henry Medical Center, on Friday, announced that the hospital's affiliation will be with Piedmont Healthcare.

Special Photo Officials at Henry Medical Center, on Friday, announced that the hospital's affiliation will be with Piedmont Healthcare.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

After nine months of whittling down candidates, and evaluating their credentials, the Henry Medical Center (HMC) has chosen Piedmont Healthcare as its affiliation partner.

Piedmont Healthcare was selected Friday during a joint meeting of the Hospital Authority of Henry County, the Henry Health Systems Board and the Henry Medical Center Board of Directors. The selection of Piedmont comes after a long process conducted by an Affiliation Steering Committee, consisting of members from all three hospital boards, medical staff leadership and the hospital administration. Piedmont was one of two healthcare systems which outlasted several other entities during the early days of HMC's affiliation discussions. Emory Healthcare, was the other strong contender.

According to Henry Medical Center President & CEO Charlie Scott, Piedmont Healthcare was selected based on its community hospital focus and experience; its demonstrated record of improving community hospitals in the areas of quality, patient and employee satisfaction, clinical program development, capital investment, and financial standing; its clear and close alignment with HMC's mission and culture; and its existing and proven clinical integration strategy.

"The most significant factors were their considerable experience in working with community hospitals, in improving many aspects of the operations of the hospitals, in three different [areas] -- in Coweta County, in Fayette County, and in Jasper, Ga.," Scott said. "They have a stellar track record in working with community hospitals, and improving the performance of those hospitals in many respects. The other thing that was a big factor for us, is the fact that Piedmont Healthcare is dedicated to patient care, alone. They are a community-hospital system. We felt a really good compatibility and fit, of mission and culture, with Piedmont Healthcare."

The three boards also decided on a long-term lease as the structural model for the affiliation, as opposed to an outright sale. Although the details remain to be worked out, according to this model, the hospital's assets would continue to be owned by the Hospital Authority and leased to HMC, which would become a subsidiary of Piedmont, who would have the responsibility and authority to operate the hospital.

"The beauty of this particular structure that was approved today, being a long-term lease, is that the hospital gets all the benefits that we would have gotten, had the hospital been sold," Scott said. "Actually, we will get more benefits, in a manner that the community still retains ownership of the hospital assets."

In addition, the final agreement will provide that the 1-mil tax levy will be eliminated, and that Piedmont will be the guarantor on the existing bonds.

This partnership will allow the hospital to strengthen its ability to serve its community while meeting the many challenges happening in healthcare, according to Henry County Board of Commissioners Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, "Henry County and Henry Medical Center are fortunate to be affiliating with such a quality health-care organization. Our residents are key stakeholders in this affiliation, and we look forward to seeing this progress, and are pleased to welcome them to our community."

Other leaders in the community also hailed the decision. "Today is a great day, not only for quality health care for our citizens, but also for economic development in Henry County," said Kay Pippin, Henry County Chamber of Commerce president. "A partnership between HMC and Piedmont will be highly beneficial for our citizens and businesses," she said.

"We are very excited about the prospect of a long-term partnership with Piedmont Healthcare and the many benefits it will bring to the delivery of healthcare in Henry County and the surrounding area," said Steve Kay, chairman of the Henry Medical Center Board of Directors and the Hospital Authority of Henry County. "We eagerly look forward to completing the transaction process and becoming a proud member of Piedmont Healthcare."

The two healthcare organizations will promptly begin formal negotiations to develop a definitive agreement for the affiliation. The agreement will also need to be reviewed and approved by the State Attorney General's Office. These steps will likely take a number of months to accomplish, according to Scott.

"Only after the regulatory approval is received, can we actually complete the transaction, and become part of Piedmont Healthcare," Scott said. He said a final decision has not been made, for changes which will be made to HMC's name, in light of the partnership.