Piedmont Healthcare bolsters north Georgia presence with 3-hospital affiliation deal

Augusta, Georgia-area University Health Care System has joined up with Piedmont Healthcare, adding three hospitals to the Atlanta-based nonprofit system’s new tally of 19 campuses.

The deal was made official Tuesday, just over nine months after the two organizations shared plans to affiliate via a nonbinding letter of intent.

“Piedmont’s model is to provide comprehensive care close to home and we are excited that a great system like University Health Care, which has been doing that for more 200 years, is joining with us,” Piedmont President and CEO Kevin Brown said in a Tuesday statement. “Our focus is always on changing healthcare, making it easier, more seamless and removing the hassle, which is what we will bring to this partnership.”

University Health Care System includes University Hospital, University Hospital Summerville and University Hospital McDuffie as well as other outpatient centers and physician practices.

Each hospital is being rebranded as Piedmont Augusta Hospital, Piedmont Augusta Hospital Summerville Campus and Piedmont McDuffie Hospital, respectively, according to the announcement.

In 2021, Piedmont said these centers would serve as the health system's regional hub for clinical services across the greater Augusta area. Piedmont also signaled at the time that it would be investing more than $1 billion into University’s facilities, IT, clinical infrastructure and operational capabilities over a 10-year period.

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“We are excited about the many possibilities and new opportunities the partnership with Piedmont will bring to our patients, employees, physicians and the community,” James Davis, president and CEO of Piedmont Augusta and Piedmont McDuffie, said in a statement. Becoming Piedmont ensures we secure high-quality care in our community into the future. This has been our commitment for 204 years, and we’re excited the tradition of excellence will continue.”

Davis added that both of the hospitals he oversees are “well-positioned for growth” and that being tapped by the larger system to act as a local clinical hub “is a huge vote of confidence.”

Atlanta-based Piedmont has been on a steep growth trajectory over the past year. Around the time of the University Health Care System letter of intent, the system also penned a deal with HCA Healthcare to purchase four of its Georgia hospitals for about $950 million.

Additionally, it has acquired and opened dozens of urgent care centers over the past year, growing its Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet brand to 40 locations across Georgia as of mid-February.

The rapid dealmaking came with warnings of excessive market power, as National Nurses United urged the Federal Trade Commission last summer to review Atlanta-area deals it argued would give Piedmont and others potential monopoly power.