With new name, Atrium Health announces 'strategic combination' with Georgia health system

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte region's largest healthcare provider has announced a 'strategic combination' with a Georgia-based hospital system early Thursday morning,

On Wednesday, Carolinas HealthCare System announced it was changing its name to Atrium Health. In making the announcement, the hospital system said the name change would allow it to expand within the region.

Less than 24 hours later, the newly-named Atrium Health announced it had signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) "to enter into a strategic combination to enhance access, affordability and equity of care for individuals and families" with Navicent Health, a hospital system based in Macon, Georgia.

"This strategic combination will allow Navicent Health to become the leader of a regional hub for Atrium Health outside the Carolinas and will enhance Macon-Bibb County's position as one of Georgia's leading centers for healthcare," officials said in the release. "Keeping the physician community strong, and enabling patients to access complex medical services locally."

Navicent Health is comprised of at least three hospitals—including a Level 1 trauma center—and a mixture of other facilities that provide related healthcare services, including rehabilitation and a continuing care retirement community, according to the system's website.

"We're focused on creating a personalized care experience for each and every patient and community we serve," said Gene Woods, president and CEO of newly named Atrium Health. "Whether it's improving health for those living in urban and rural areas through access to the newest virtual care technology, elevating hope for the parent of a sick child through an innovative cancer treatment, or advancing healing for a patient in our emergency department through integrated behavioral health services – the privilege to care for existing and new communities throughout central and south Georgia is another way to breathe life into our mission to care for all."

News of the combination with Navicent Health in Georgia comes as executives with Atrium Health continue talks with leaders at the UNC Health Care regarding a 'partnership' that would effectively merge two of the state's largest health providers.

It is not clear whether the combination between Atrium Health and the Georgia-based hospital system would have any impact on the deal with UNC Health Care.

In a statement, UNC Health said that it was aware of the deal with Navicent.

"Atrium Health had informed UNC Health Care of its announcement of an agreement with Navicent Health. We understand they have been in discussions for some time. We believe this combination is further evidence of the consolidation that is occurring in health care around the country, Phil Bridges of UNC Health said. "Discussions about UNC Health Care's proposed partnership with Atrium Health are ongoing."

Dr, Michael Thompson, Public Health Sciences Director at UNC Charlotte says that patients in the Carolinas may not notice any immediate differences with the expansion and consolidation, but noted that it could lead to an increase in efficiency.

"With a system, if it's fully integrated, they can share information so there is better coordination of care for the patients no matter where you go in terms of the electric medical records, it can improve the coordination of care within the system," Dr. Thompson said.

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