NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Sentara Healthcare and North Carolina-based Cone Health are looking to join forces.
Sentara Healthcare issued a statement Wednesday confirming that the company has signed a letter of intent for the merger with Cone Health, which is headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“As two of the top-performing health systems in the United States, Cone Health and Sentara Healthcare share similar missions, strategies and cultures,” said F.D. Hornaday, chair of the Cone Health Board of Trustees. “This planned merger positions our organizations to address more effectively the toughest challenges facing health care systems: increasing access and affordability.”
Currently, Cone Health and Norfolk-based Sentara do not compete in the same markets, meaning the public will not lose any of their healthcare options.
“This rapidly-changing health care environment requires tremendous transformation and innovation to ensure the long-term success of each respective health system and, most importantly, the very best for our patients and health plan members,” said Howard P. Kern, president and chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. “We can either react to change, or we can shape it. We are choosing to shape change and will lead this transformation of health care together.”
Kern tells 10 On Your Side that Cone Health has expertise in cardiovascular care.
“They can be developing that expertise and share that expertise across the whole organization, including Sentara,” Kern said.
This merge estimates about $11.5 billion in annual revenue.
Kern said more services for patients are on the way. This includes programs for underserved communities, similar to what the hospitals are doing amid the pandemic.
“We’ve been reaching out into the African American communities. Working with churches and doing a lot to make sure that these communities have access to prevention, testing and making sure they get the kinds of care needed.”
Healthcare leaders are committed to the employees.
“We have no plans for layoffs in either organization, as a part of this merger. We hope to see these organizations grow and be successful through the additional programs. The services that are planned as a part of this merger, will bring opportunities for new employment or growth into new jobs. We are very excited.”
Kern plans to lead the organization from the Norfolk headquarters, while Greensboro serves as a regional headquarters for the Cone Health division.
“Cone Health is among the highest-quality health care organizations in the nation, and we are financially strong. With the right partner, we can build on what we’ve created and do even more for those we are privileged to serve,” said Terry Akin, CEO of Cone Health. “We have long said that Cone Health doesn’t intend to grow simply for the sake of growth. Instead, we are partnering for inspiring possibilities.”
Akin will remain on as president of the Cone Health division.
Cone Health currently employs 675 physicians and advanced practice clinicians. Sentara Healthcare has about 1,200 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, or APC, on staff. In total, Sentara has 30,000 employees across its system in Virginia and North Carolina.
Health insurance plan headquarters will be established in Greensboro and Norfolk.
Cone Health says the merger should be formalized by mid-2021, and it may take up to two years for the two companies to fully combine.
There is no word on what the merged company would be called.
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