(Akron) - Akron General Health System has signed a non-binding letter of intent and entered into exclusive discussions with a subsidiary of Community Health Systems, Inc. and the Cleveland Clinic.

The entities would form a strategic partnership that would provide clinical and capital resources, strengthening Akron General financially while preserving the health system’s century-long mission of offering outstanding care for area residents.

The proposed sale of the system’s assets to a newly formed joint venture would position Akron General for long-term stability and growth during a period of dynamic changes across the health care industry while also maintaining strong local leadership.

“We are thrilled to announce that Akron General Health System has entered into discussions that we believe will lead to a transformative and strategic partnership with two outstanding, nationally renowned healthcare organizations, Community Health Systems and the Cleveland Clinic,” said Thomas L. “Tim” Stover, MD, MBA, President and CEO, Akron General Health System. “The high level of clinical care, operational experience, medical innovation, and best business practices brought together through this potential partnership will serve as a tremendous asset to our community, strengthening Akron General and ensuring our mission of service to the community for generations to come.”

“We are pleased to announce this affiliation with Akron General Health System. Cleveland Clinic has long-served patients from the Akron area, and this will allow us to expand our clinical services in the region as Community Health Systems grows its presence in the state,” said Toby M. Cosgrove, M.D., chief executive officer and president of Cleveland Clinic. “For Akron General, this partnership means access to tremendous resources as it continues to deliver on its mission of providing high-quality healthcare services to patients.”

“This is a compelling collaboration that can bring together clinical expertise, capital resources, operational experience and innovation for the benefit of the Akron community,” said Wayne T. Smith, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Community Health Systems, Inc. “We look forward to working with Akron General Health System’s medical staff and employees in support of their commitment to provide high-quality healthcare for their community.”

Over the past few months, a special committee of the Akron General board explored options and engaged in conversations with a number of organizations about possible relationships. After careful consideration, the board selected these potential partners based on specific criteria.

Most importantly, Stover says the board sought partners that would embrace the mission and culture of Akron General and advance its unique model of disease prevention and wellness.

“In the end, we want to make sure Akron General is here for the next 100 years and doing exactly what we’ve done for the past 100 years – providing exceptional care for our patients,” said Dr. Stover.

During the exclusive negotiations that will take place now, the parties will finalize details of the agreement, which will include commitments to:

  • Make significant capital investments to improve facilities, technology and hospital services;
  • Recruit new physicians to the community;
  • Maintain charity care; and
  • Appoint a local governing board of trustees consisting of community leaders and members of the hospital’s medical staff.

Stover said the next steps include due diligence and final negotiations, a process that may take several months to complete. Assuming the parties consent to the terms of the partnership, a definitive agreement would be expected later this year. 

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