Decision on Shelby Baptist coming in next few months

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

ALABASTER – Shelby Baptist Medical Center likely will be operating under the umbrella of the Tenet Healthcare company and alongside Brookwood Medical Center by late February or early March, according to a Tenet chief executive.

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.

In a Dec. 17 phone interview, Garry Gause, the former chief executive officer of Brookwood Medical Center who now serves as the chief executive of Tenet’s southern region, said the companies are completing a period of “due diligence” on the matter.

“If everything goes smoothly, by February or early March we will be operating as a new company,” Gause said of the process.

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.

If the agreement is finalized, it would unite 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.

“If you look at the history of the two organizations, I think it will benefit both sides. We compliment each other geographically,” Gause said. “It was easy to see how this could be beneficial.”

Gause said employees at Brookwood and the Baptist Health System facilities will not see any immediate changes as a result of the possible merger, and said the company will lay out a concrete plan for the future after the merger negotiations are complete.

“We will start looking at additional ways we can provide services to our patients,” Gause said. “We will have opportunities to expand services at each of the facilities.”