St. Mary's & Baptist to Merge

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - A pair of East Tennessee hospitals say they share the same faith and mission. Soon, they'll share the same boss. Today St. Mary's Health System and Baptist Health System announced they plan to merge.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has more on what this means for jobs and how this impacts your trip to the hospital.

The idea of a merger came after the two hospitals discussed a joint effort with cardiologists. Now that it's expanded to full-out partnership, they say they can help your heart and your more than 200 bones and everything in between better than ever.

Two different hospitals. Two different companies. Until now.

"It's outstanding. It's a positive. It's a win, win for both situations," cardiologist Dr. Randall Towne said.

Tuesday afternoon, St. Mary's and Baptist announced they plan to merge. A medical team-up doctors at Baptist call a prescription for success.

"I think they can make this a profitable, favorable program and really develop it the way it should be developed," Dr. Towne said.

The names on the signs won't change, but the woman in charge will. Current St. Mary's President and CEO Debra London will command the combined health system.

"We share a common faith. We share basically the same mission. The cultures are very much aligned---a lot of the same services," London said.

And the hospitals say it's the services you get that will improve. The tag team effort will make them.

"Better able to provide services in a more organized and efficient way, so I think the impact on patients will be good," interim Baptist Chief Executive Janice James said.

But they say the impact on jobs is too early to know.

"We have a nursing shortage and I think we would continue to have to fill nursing positions in particular. So if anything this may fill more jobs," London said.

"I don't know that I see any more jobs being created, but over time we'll do some consolidation," James said.

Many managers at Baptist are already there on a temporary basis from Wellspring Partners. Their jobs existence will be up to the merged company.

For Baptist, this marks the latest try to restructure management amidst foundering finances. A deal with a Texas-based Triad Hospitals fell apart last year.

"We've got a great past. We've been here for 20 years, myself personally," Dr. Towne said.

Now the doctors and hospitals say they've got a bright future.

The merger's not final yet. Both hospital boards have just signed letters of intent. They still have go through several regulatory and legal procedures, but the hospitals say the deal should be done before the end of the year.

With the plans in place, hospital leaders hope to admit more patients than UT Medical Center, and the net revenue is expected to be around $600 million.

The combined hospitals could also provide 6,000 employees and 800 physicians.


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