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Local hospital authority plans to buy Doctors Hospital

The Medical Center Hospital Authority has plans to purchase Doctors Hospital, authority officials announced Thursday.

The two parties have signed a letter of intent, which outlines the scope of discussions regarding the sale. But no formal acquisition agreement has been signed by either party.

The sale price and agreement terms were not disclosed as both parties are bound under confidentiality agreements during negotiations.

Tom Titus, senior vice president of Columbus Regional Healthcare System, said teaming up with Doctors Hospital would allow for access to additional patients and enhanced and expanded hospital services.

"I think there's an opportunity for us to develop relationships that will improve health services in the community," Titus said.

The nine-member Medical Center Hospital Authority owns The Medical Center and leases the hospital to The Medical Center Inc., which is affiliated with Columbus Regional Healthcare System. The authority was established in 1975 under the Georgia Hospital Authorities Act.

Titus said if the Doctors Hospital deal — which the two entities have been discussing for a little over a year — happens, the Medical Center Hospital Authority will form a company, Doctors Hospital Inc. The company would be a non-profit entity that would lease the facility at Doctors Hospital from the authority and operate it. Right now, Doctors Hospital is a for-profit health care facility that is owned and operated by nationwide health care network HCA.

In a Dec. 12 memorandum to Doctors Hospital employees and medical staff members, Doctors Hospital Chief Executive Officer Hugh Wilson said talks are "now in the advanced stages" but it was still "premature to talk about the details."

"The intent of both Doctors Hospital and The Medical Center Hospital Authority is to continue operation of Doctors Hospital and The Medical Center as high quality acute care facilities," Wilson said.