Two Atlanta hospitals discuss a partnership

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Two Atlanta-based health systems, the Saint Joseph’s Health System and Piedmont Healthcare, have signed a letter of intent to begin discussions centering around the possibility of entering into an agreement to operate as a Joint Operating Company.

The pending partnership would operate in accord with the ethical and religious directives of the Catholic Church, but this would not apply to entities outside of the Joint Operating Company, according to the 410-bed, acute-care St. Joseph’s.

If the partnership goes through, St. Joseph’s said that the Joint Operating Company would be sponsored by both itself and Piedmont and operate under a separate board and head by trustees from both St. Joseph’s and Piedmont, who would lead all decision making processes involving the Joint Operating Company.

The letter of intent provides the facilities a 90-day period for discussions surrounding the final agreement and its terms.

St. Joseph’s said that once an explicit agreement is reached, both facilities must receive final approval from their governing bodies including the Sisters of Mercy and Catholic Health East, the Archbishop of Atlanta, the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General of Georgia.

The facilities hope to have the partnership finalized by the end of this year, according to St. Joseph's.