THE STATE: Palmetto Health, Greenville Health System to merge, creating 13-hospital system in SC

Via The State »

Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System are merging to form the largest health system in South Carolina with 13 hospitals and 1.2 million patients annually, the companies announced Thursday.

Together, the combined companies are expected to generate $3.9 billion in annual net revenue and become the largest private employer in South Carolina with more more than 28,000 health care workers and 2,800 physicians, according to a news release. The new company does not have a name, but one is expected to be chosen by the time the deal closes, which officials hope will be by Jan. 1.

A newly organized board with equal representation from both current boards will oversee the new health company, officials said. Palmetto Health Chief Executive Officer Charles D. Beaman Jr. and Greenville Health System Chief Executive Officer Michael C. Riordan will share leadership responsibilities.

The Palmetto Health System includes Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Baptist in Columbia and Palmetto Health Tuomey in Sumter. The Greenville Hospital System has facilities in Greenville, Oconee County, Laurens County, and Greer. The two companies have co-owned Easley Baptist Hospital in Pickens County since 2009.

Nearly half of all South Carolinians will be within 15 minutes of the new health company’s physician practices, hospitals and other health care facilities, officials said.

“Both organizations are committed to ensuring our community members receive the health care they need, regardless of their ability to pay,” Beaman said in a news release. “Our integration to become a new health company continues our commitment to serving our patients. We will create a culture that attracts, retains and develops the highest quality and diversity of team members, and continue to teach the next generation of physicians and other caregivers.”

The deal must be approved by several groups, including the boards of Palmetto Health, Richland Memorial Hospital and Baptist Healthcare System. The Palmetto Health system was formed in 1998 in a merger of Richland Memorial Hospital and the Baptist Healthcare System.

Also, Richland County Council must approve the deal because the county owns the Palmetto Health Richland.

Finally, the deal must clear federal anti-trust scrutiny.

In the meantime, Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will continue to offer care and services as two separate, independent organizations.

“Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health are joining together from individual positions of strength,” Riordan said. “We have a long history of successful collaboration, as well as a strong cultural fit and mutual commitment to make South Carolina healthier. Together we will continue to ensure our community members, including those in rural areas, have access to high-quality, locally based care.”

Because of its scale, the new company will have the potential to invest up to an additional $1 billion over the next five years in programs, technology, facilities and team members, officials said.

Beaman, CEO of Palmetto Health, said no layoffs are planned. “We’re putting everything on the table,” he said. “But we have no immediate plans for reductions.”

He said all hospitals are struggling with “a lot of unknowns … including how we will be paid.” He pointed to the uncertainty over the federal health care law.

“We’re all still seeing escalating costs” in just about every area, including personnel, medicines and equipment.

Frances Ellison, chair of Greenville’s Strategic Coordinating Organization board that governs Greenville Health System, said in a news release, “Our board recognizes what can be accomplished when we work together. This is an investment in our community to create a solution that will help residents be healthier and address rising health care costs—now and in the future.”

Beverly Chrisman, chair of the Palmetto Health board, added, “Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System coming together as one ensures that a South Carolina-based, not-for-profit health company will be here for our patients. We are building this new health company based on our prior collaborative successes, which demonstrate the promise of our partnership.”

Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health

The merger will make the new company:

  • The largest health system in South Carolina with 13 hospitals and hundreds of physician practices and ambulatory centers, serving 1.2 million patients annually
  • Generate and estimted $3.9 billion in annual net revenue.
  • Provide health care to nearly half of South Carolinians who will be within 15 minutes of one of our locations.
  • One of the 50 largest health care systems in the country.
  • South Carolina’s leading provider of charity and uncompensated care with hundreds of millions of dollars provided annually and nearly one-third of the state’s Medicaid services.
  • The largest private employer in South Carolina with more more than 28,000 team members and 2,800 physicians