Ardent Health Services will bring $150 million in new investment to the new hospital system it is creating with its purchase of East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System and its affiliation with The University of Texas medical system.
ETMC and Ardent officials on Wednesday confirmed what the Tyler Paper reported last week, that Ardent is acquiring ETMC. According to a press release, the UT system will “contribute its Tyler-based UT Health Northeast hospital and 12 physician clinic operations to the new 10-hospital system.”
The deal still must be approved by the UT Board of Regents.
“It’s a happy day, a good day for us and for East Texas,” ETMC President Elmer Ellis said. “Health care systems across the country are changing. We’ve enjoyed being independent, and we’ve built a system with, at one time, 12 hospitals and a lot of clinics. But we find it necessary these days, in order for us to survive and grow, to have a partnership.”
Ardent Health Services President and CEO David Vandewater said the deal “brings together the best of three organizations ” - Ardent, ETMC and the UT system.
“We have $150 million to invest over the next five years” into the new system, Vandewater said. “That will fund new technology and programs and support operations of the new system.”
Last week, ETMC denied that any such deal was in the works.
“Speaking on behalf of our administrative team, please know we currently have no agreement with any potential partner,” a memo sent to employees said.
Asked about that memo on Wednesday, Ellis responded, “We wanted an opportunity to tell our employees first.”
Vandewater said that when the memo was sent out, there was not yet a signed letter of intent.
“(The news) didn’t come out as smoothly as we had hoped,” Vandewater said. “But it doesn’t overshadow the fact that we’re incredibly excited about what’s happening.”
Former state senator and mayor Kevin Eltife is a member of the UT Board of Regents, and he’ll be taking the matter to the board in an upcoming meeting.
“The great benefit of these three organizations coming together will be that East Texans will enjoy the best of all possible worlds,” Eltife said in a prepared statement. “A great national health care system will be integrated with a regional powerhouse in health care delivery and a leader in health education and research.”
There will be a rebranding, Vandewater confirmed, but the new entity will take some time to study what name change might work best.
“We would like to get the UT name in there,” he said. “But we’ll have some focus groups help us determine a new name for the system.”
Vandewater also said the new entity will not be a nonprofit, as ETMC was. That means all of ETMC’s facilities - and possibly even UT Health Northeast’s - will go back on the tax rolls and will pay property taxes.
“We are a taxpayer,” he said.
In a press release, UT Health Northeast President Dr. Kirk Calhoun said his hospital is “honored to be part of this new regional health system.”
“Our focus at the UT system and UT Health Northeast will be on expanding educational opportunities, including training more physicians, nurses and other health care professionals for our region and beyond. We also believe the new partnership will foster research that can improve patient outcomes and promote community health in East Texas.”
Ardent, a system that operates 20 hospitals in six states, is owned by investor Sam Zell’s Equity Group Investments.