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Essent completes merger with Tennessee entity

SHARON — Essent Healthcare (owner of Sharon Hospital) has completed its merger with Tennessee-based RegionalCare Hospital Partners. The deal was finalized Nov. 4. The merger combines the four hospitals owned by RegionalCare, which are in Florence, Ala., Muscle Shoals, Ala., Ottumwa, Iowa, and Wilmington, Ohio; and the three hospitals owned by Essent, which the press release from the companies describe as “market-leading, non-urban acute care hospitals.” In addition to Sharon Hospital the company has a hospital in Waynesburg, Pa., and Paris, Texas. The merger had to be approved by regulatory agencies in each of the states where the companies have facilities.No New York state agencies were involved in the decision.The plan to combine forces was announced in September. At that time, a spokesperson for the two companies, Kim Fox of the Nashville, Tenn., public relations firm Jarrard Phillips Cate and Hancock, said the decision to combine the two health-care companies was precipitated by the weak national economy and the coming plans for federal health-care reform. “A larger system can operate from a position of greater strength, especially now with the economic climate and health reform on the horizon,” Fox said.Kim Lumia, who is president and CEO of Sharon Hospital, also said at the time that the merger will strengthen the hospital as the nation moves toward an uncertain financial future.“Sharon Hospital benefits from becoming part of a larger organization,” she said. “Obviously, there is more economy of scale and we can share best practices. I have met with the RegionalCare partners and I am excited by the possibilities.”Though she said she could not comment on the corporate-level decision, Lumia said “the management team here will remain in place as well as all employees in good standing. Day-to-day operations will not change.”Growth will continue to be a big focus for Sharon Hospital, which has upgraded and added services in recent years. “We’re not looking to stay at status quo,” she said. “We began reviewing potential merger partners several months ago,” said Essent Chief Executive Officer Michael W. Browder on Nov. 4. “It became apparent that RegionalCare was the right fit with Essent Healthcare. Their culture, commitment to quality, and desire to increase the level and range of services available locally is right in line with our goals. I am confident that the new merged organization will raise the level of service to the seven communities we serve.”

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