Atrium Health suspends discussions about 'partnership' with UNC Health Care

Atrium Health suspends discussions about 'partnership' with UNC Health Care

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Atrium Health has suspended discussions about forming a joint operating company with UNC Health Care, officials announced Friday afternoon.

Carolinas Healthcare System announced that they changed their name to Atrium Health on Feb. 7. The move came as the healthcare system sought to combine with UNC Health Care, transitioning to a regional healthcare giant.

The company said the name change reflects the system's evolution as it establishes the next generation of care settings. The history of the now Atrium Health dates back to 1940 when the system began as Charlotte Memorial Hospital.

Officials released this statement Friday:

"Atrium Health is committed to the patients and communities of North Carolina more than ever and remains committed to creating an organization that will serve more people in better ways and enhancing our ability to address our state's most pressing issues including rural care, behavioral health, and affordability."

In a letter released Friday, officials said they have not been able to reach an agreement but said their "respect for UNC Health Care, its team and UNC Health Care's accomplishments has grown through this process."

"Their desire to work collaboratively to improve the health of every North Carolinian is something we highly value and to which we are also committed," Atrium Health officials said.

Less than 24 hours after their initial announcement, Charlotte's largest healthcare provider announced a 'strategic combination' with a Georgia-based hospital system. Atrium Health said 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.

State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell released this statement following the announcement:

"I've consistently said that I am about 'k-n-o-w,' not 'n-o.' It's now obvious that many others agreed there was a lack of transparency surrounding the proposed UNC/Atrium merger. We never acquired enough information to ensure that the combination of these two health care entities would not have a negative impact on the taxpayers of North Carolina. I was also concerned that this proposal involving billions in state assets never came before the Council of State, whose primary function is to review the disposition of state property."

Atrium Health says their "priority will always be its patients and communities." "We will remain steadfast in our mission to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all, and committed to ensuring the people of the Carolinas and beyond have access to world-class care," Atrium Health officials said.

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