Shelby Baptist may see new parent company

Baptist Health System, which operates Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster, is in talks with the parent company of Brookwood Medical Center over forming a joint company. (File)

Baptist Health System, which operates Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster, is in talks with the parent company of Brookwood Medical Center over forming a joint company. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Baptist Health System, which owns and operates the 232-bed Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster, is in talks with the parent company of Brookwood Medical Center in Homewood over forming a jointly owned company, the entities announced on Dec. 15.

If formed, the company would operate Brookwood Medical Center and all Baptist Health System facilities, including Shelby Baptist.

The company also would manage Baptist Health Center clinics in Columbiana, Alabaster, Chelsea, Calera and Pelham, a vascular and endovascular surgery specialty center in Alabaster and the Shelby Advanced Arthritis Care facility in Alabaster.

Baptist Health System signed a letter-of-intent with a subsidiary of the Tenet Healthcare Corporation – the parent company of Brookwood Medical Center – to form the new jointly owned company.

Both companies “have initiated an exploratory period of due diligence, which is intended to result in a definitive agreement” to form the joint company, according to information released by Baptist Health System on Dec. 15.

If the agreement is finalized, it would united Brookwood with Shelby Baptist, Citizens Baptist Medical Center, Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Walker Baptist Medical Center and 77 primary and specialty care clinics across central Alabama. The system would include more than 1,700 licensed beds, 7,300 employees and about 1,500 physicians.

Shelby County Commission Chairman Rick Shepherd said he and Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock spoke with Shelby Baptist representatives on Dec. 15, and said he does not foresee any negative impacts from the possible merger.

“If it was a merger with anything less than the services we are accustomed to, we would be more concerned about it,” Shepherd said. “But two good hospitals joining together doesn’t equal a bad. We don’t see any changes in services to the residents.”

If the two companies combine, it would provide the health care network “access to a sustainable source of capital and the possibility of significant investments in new equipment, facility upgrades and strategic initiatives in the future,” read a Baptist Health System press release.

“A primary reason to enter into a partnership with Tenet is its track record partnering with and growing faith-based institutions and allowing them to continue operating with a faith-based mission and focus,” Baptist Health System Chief Executive Officer Keith Parrott wrote in the release. “At the same time, Tenet can offer resources such as sustainable access to capital, a strong history of operating well-run hospitals and access to its existing purchasing contracts.”

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said he was “surprised” by the announcement, but said he is in favor of expanding health care offerings in Shelby County.

“I think we were all kind of surprised by the announcement,” Ward said during a Dec. 15 phone interview. “It’s certainly a big deal for our district. I’m for anything that would improve access to health care for our residents.”

Calls to Shelby Baptist Chief Executive President David Wilson on Dec. 15 were referred to Baptist Health System Vice President of Marketing Kate Darden, who had not returned a message seeking comment as of about 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 15.