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Catholic Medical Center explores merger with HCA Healthcare


The non-profit New Hampshire system could be merging with the for-profit giant.

Alex Walker, president and CEO of Catholic Medical Center (Photo: CMC)

Alex Walker, president and CEO of Catholic Medical Center (Photo: CMC)

Citing the need to maintain its long-term viability, Catholic Medical Center says it is exploring a partnership with HCA Healthcare.

Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Catholic Medical Center says it has signed a non-binding letter of intent and will begin negotiations that could lead to CMC joining HCA.

If the deal comes together, the nonprofit Catholic Medical Center would become part of HCA, the largest for-profit hospital organization in America. CMC says any deal would be contingent upon the organization maintaining its Catholic identity.

In a statement, Alex Walker, CMC’s president and CEO, said Catholic Medical Center is exploring the step to ensure its long-term future.

“We have been on a journey to identify a partner that will, first and foremost, support our mission of health, healing and hope, as well as a partner who will embrace who we are as a Catholic hospital,” Walker said in the statement.

“With HCA Healthcare, we believe we have found that partner. In addition to embracing our Catholic mission, HCA Healthcare also aligns with our core values and is committed to healthcare excellence, community service, and investing in our people and facilities. CMC and HCA Healthcare have agreed to explore a partnership that would enable us to continue providing high-quality Catholic health care to our community for generations to come.”

Catholic Medical Center says the letter of intent begins what is expected to be a long process of negotiations and due diligence before an agreement is finalized.

However, the Catholic Medical Center says it has agreed with HCA to create a nonprofit foundation to carry on CMC’s community service and will continue to provide charity care to the uninsured.

CMC says the partnership, if ratified, would enable patients to take advantage of HCA’s capabilities.

Catholic Medical Center is licensed for 330 beds and employs more than 3,000 workers. The medical center is part of GraniteOne Health, a non-profit regional health system. The boards of the hospitals that formed GraniteOne posted a message in May saying that they have agreed to dissolve the system.

Last year, GraniteOne explored a partnership with Dartmouth Health, but the systems abandoned the plans after New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella objected to the deal, New Hampshire Public Radio reported. Formella said in a statement that the deal violated a provision in the state’s constitution that is meant to guarantee “free, fair and robust competition.”

HCA Healthcare, based in Nashville, Tenn., operates 182 hospitals in 20 states in the United Kingdom. HCA runs three hospitals in New Hampshire: Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Parkland Medical Center, and Frisbie Memorial Hospital.

Timothy Riley, chair of CMC’s board of trustees, pointed out that HCA has successfully partnered with a Catholic hospital in Florida: HCA Florida Mercy Hospital. Riley said in a statement that the board is “confident in HCA’s commitment to ensure CMC will continue to operate as a Catholic hospital.”

More hospital mergers and acquisitions have been taking place this year, and analysts expect more deals to happen in the coming months. While some deals will be driven by strategic opportunity, analysts expect hospitals that are struggling financial will be looking to find partners in order to stay alive.

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