Person Memorial Hospital in Roxboro plans to become the second community hospital in North Carolina to affiliate with a joint venture formed by the Duke University Health System and LifePoint Hospitals.
Person Memorial's board announced this morning it is negotiating with Duke LifePoint Healthcare on a proposed acquisition. The hospital, which opened in 1950 and is licensed for 110 beds, is the latest small facility to seek safety in a larger health system.
The consolidation is being fueled in part by rising medical costs and the federal health overhaul. Smaller hospitals face tough challenges in paying for new technology and negotiating with health insurers in the new environment.
Duke's health system and others, including the UNC Health Care System, are looking to buy or partner with smaller hospitals to establish larger medical networks, improve care and create new efficiencies.
"Over the last several months, our Board has been working to develop a strategic plan that will effectively strengthen our hospital for the future," said Person Memorial chairman Robby Jones, in a statement. "As we explored our partnering options, Duke LifePoint emerged as a great fit for our hospital."
Person Memorial, located about 55 miles northwest of Raleigh, expects to arrange a deal with Duke LifePoint after up to 90 days of due diligence. The hospital has been managed by Duke's health system for 13 years.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to expand this relationship," said William Fulkerson, executive vice president with the Duke health system.
In February, Duke LifePoint announced an agreement to run Maria Parham Medical Center in Henderson, a 102-bed hospital about 45 miles north of Raleigh. And last month the joint venture paid about $25 million to buy nine heart labs across North Carolina from Charlotte-based MedCath.
Officials have said they are in discussions about other deals across the state.
LifePoint is a a publicly traded company based in Brentwood, Tenn., that operates 52 hospitals in 17 states. The joint venture with Duke's health system is allowing it to expand quickly in North Carolina for the first time.
Duke's top rival, the UNC Health Care System, announced in April that it's in discussions with Pardee Hospital in western North Carolina about a possible partnership. Pardee is a 222-bed hospital owned by the residents of Henderson County, south of Asheville.