Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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Cone Health merger called off

Nine months after merger announcement, both organizations decide against pursuing Cone’s merger with larger Virginia company

Greensboro-based Cone Health, which operates Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington and several local medical practices, and Sentara Healthcare, based in Norfolk, Virginia, have decided to end the merger they jointly announced last August 12.

When the merger of Cone into Sentara was announced, it was made clear that Sentara was the larger partner, a not-for-profit system which operates 12 hospitals with 1,200 physicians and 30,000 employees. In addition to the hospitals and medical facilities in its home base of Norfolk and the Chesapeake Bay area, Sentara owns and operates medical facilities in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Williamsburg, and Hampton Roads, all in Virginia.

A somewhat smaller system, Cone, also a not-for-profit system, operates five hospitals, including Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington; it has 1,200 physicians, and 13,000 employees.

In an announcement Wednesday, the two organizations said the decision to end their planned “affiliation” – the term used in 2021, as opposed to “merger” of Cone into Sentara, as described in their joint 2020 new release – was a mutual one in which each organization had reached the determination that each would be “better served by remaining independent.”

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Terry Akin, chief executive officer of Cone summarized the decision: “Recently, in the final analysis, we mutually decided that we can best serve our communities by remaining independent organizations.”

The Cone Health board of trustees and Sentara’s board of directors came to the mutual agreement to end their planned merger  “late last week,” according to an announcement from the two organizations.

When the merger was announced last year, board chairman F.D. Horndaday described the unanimous decisions of Cone’s board of trustees:  “As two of the top-performing health systems in the United States, Cone Health and Sentara Healthcare share similar missions, strategies and cultures. This planned merger positions our organizations to address more effectively the toughest challenges facing health care systems: increasing access and affordability.”

On Wednesday, Hornaday commented, “After significant evaluation, we are certain that this is the best path forward for the future of Cone Health and the many people throughout our region who rely on us to deliver our very best.”

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