- Rural hospital chain Lifepoint Health and Ascension Saint Thomas announced a joint venture last week to co-own Highpoint Health, a four-hospital system in Tennessee currently operated by Brentwood, Tennessee-based Lifepoint.
- The hospitals and care sites will be co-branded with Ascension Saint Thomas, but will be majority-owned and operated by Lifepoint, according to the release. The companies declined to comment on the cost of the buy-in.
- The health systems have partnered before. Ascension Saint Thomas partnered with Kindred Rehabilitation Services, a Lifepoint business unit, in 2022 to jointly own Ascension Saint Thomas Rehabilitation Hospital in Nashville.
Highpoint Health includes Sumner Regional Medical Center and Sumner Station in Gallatin, Tennessee, Trousdale Medical Center in Hartsville, Riverview Regional Medical Center in Carthage and more than 15 affiliated clinics and care sites, according to the release.
Hospital leadership teams will remain in place, according to a release. The Highpoint hospitals will be rebranded as Highpoint Health–Sumner, Highpoint Health–Trousdale and Highpoint Health–Riverview.
Employees are not expected to experience “significant changes” as a result of the venture, according to the release. However there will be some changes for patient care access as a result of the partnership with Ascension, a Catholic nonprofit provider.
Vasectomies for birth control, for example, are no longer permitted at the partnership hospitals. Highpoint facilities will now abide by Catholic directives for healthcare services, according to a Lifepoint Health spokesperson.
The deal comes as hospital merger and acquisition activity has begun to trend back to pre-pandemic levels, according to an October report from consultancy Kaufman Hall. However, many deals have been driven by financial distress.
Ascension Saint Thomas serves the middle region of Tennessee, operating more than 250 sites of care including 13 hospitals. In its 2023 fiscal year, St. Louis-based Ascension, the parent company of Ascension Saint Thomas, posted a $2.7 billion dollar net loss as rising expenses outpaced revenues.
Lifepoint Health employs more than 50,000 workers across a network of 60 community hospital campuses, more than 60 rehabilitation and behavioral health hospitals and 250 additional sites of care, according to the release.
Lifepoint Health is owned by private equity firm Apollo Global Management.
The health system has previously been scrutinized over its care quality. Last year, regulators found enough deficiencies at LifePoint’s Wilson Medical Center to threaten to terminate its Medicare contract. The North Carolina Department of Justice investigated the facility in the same year over concerns about the number of available inpatient beds and allegations of understaffing, The News and Observer reported.