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Sentara, Cone Health to combine

Sentara Healthcare, headquartered in Norfolk, and Cone Health, headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., have signed a letter of intent to combine organizations.

Sentara Healthcare and Cone Health are both regional, community-based health systems with similar missions, cultures, strategies and visions for transforming the future of health care, a press release from Sentara on Wednesday stated. Sentara’s facilities include Sentara Obici Hospital; Sentara BelleHarbour, an emergency room and outpatient medical center on Bridge Road; and Sentara St. Luke’s in Carrollton, which includes an emergency room and medical office building.

“Their joint commitment is simple: to bring together two strong industry leaders into a unified, transformative and value-driven organization at the forefront of change that will be a model for the rest of the nation’s healthcare systems,” the press release stated.

Sentara Healthcare is an integrated, not-for-profit system composed of 12 hospitals in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina. It employs more than 1,200 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, 30,000 team members and operate hundreds of sites of care. Its Optima Health Plan and Virginia Premier Health Plan serve 858,000 members in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio.

Cone Health, a not-for-profit integrated health care network, consists of five hospitals in North Carolina. The system employs more than 13,000 people, including nearly 1,200 physicians and advanced practice providers, and operates more than 100 care sites. Its Medicare Advantage health plan, HealthTeam Advantage, serves 15,000 members.

“This rapidly changing health care environment requires tremendous transformation and innovation to ensure the long-term success of each respective health system and, most importantly, the very best for those we are privileged to serve,” said Howard P. Kern, president and chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. “We can either react to change, or we can shape it. We are choosing to shape change and will lead this transformation of health care together.”

“In Sentara Healthcare, we’ve found a like-minded organization who shares our commitment to transforming healthcare. The combined organization will build on our shared commitments and distinct expertise to promote better health outcomes and minimize healthcare costs for consumers,” said Terry Akin, chief executive officer of Cone Health. “Our integration strengthens and accelerates our shared mission and strategy to transform healthcare in the communities we serve. We have long said we will not grow, just for growth’s sake. We are joining forces to tackle the toughest challenges in healthcare.”

The Sentara Healthcare Board of Directors and Cone Health Board of Trustees have each approved the terms of the letter of intent. The combined organization is subject to state and federal regulatory review and customary closing conditions and is anticipated to close in mid-2021. Following that, it is expected to take up to two years to fully combine and integrate.

Howard P. Kern will oversee the combined organization and the corporate headquarters will remain in Norfolk, and Greensboro, N.C., will serve as the regional headquarters for the Cone Health division. Terry Akin will remain in Greensboro as the president of the Cone Health division.