Sentara Healthcare announces merger with Greensboro-based Cone Health

Sentara Healthcare and Cone Health have agreed to a merger that will become effective by the middle of next year, and is expected to take about two years to complete.

Sentara Healthcare, headquartered in Norfolk, is a not-for-profit system comprised of 12 hospitals in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Sentara has more than 1,200 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, 30,000 team members and operates hundreds of sites of care.

Sentara’s Optima Health Plan and Virginia Premier Health Plan serve 858,000 members in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio.

Cone Health, based in Greensboro is a not-for-profit healthcare network consisting of five hospitals in the Piedmont of 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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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.”

Sentara Healthcare leases Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City from Pasquotank County. Spokeswoman Annya Soucy told The Daily Advance the merger will have no immediate impact on local operations since a “definitive agreement” between the two healthcare systems won’t be in place until mid-2021.

“Eventually, the two systems hope their association will lead to better access to health insurance across North Carolina as Sentara and Cone combine their health plans,” Soucy said. “Both systems have a strong commitment to value-based care that increases access and affordability and both are committed to their not-for-profit missions and stable employment for their members of the team.”

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 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.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.