Saint Thomas parent company to acquire four UC hospitals

Highlands Medical Center in Sparta.
Highlands Medical Center in Sparta.

SPARTA — Ascension, the parent organization of Saint Thomas Health, has signed a definitive agreement with Capella Healthcare to acquire four Upper Cumberland hospitals previously jointly owned by the two providers.

Under the agreement, River Park Hospital in McMinnville, Highlands Medical Center in Sparta, DeKalb Community Hospital in Smithville and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury would become full members of the Saint Thomas Health network. The four hospitals have been part of an innovative joint venture relationship between Capella and Saint Thomas since 2012.

RELATED: UC hospitals ease into Saint Thomas partnership deal (June 4, 2012)

RELATED: Saint Thomas, Capella ink partnership agreement (April 30, 2012)


The four hospitals will become full members of Saint Thomas Health at an undisclosed later date, subject to customary closing conditions. Officials said that could happen as soon as Aug. 1; they declined to further comment publicly until that time.

“This change furthers Ascension’s goal of creating clinically integrated systems of care to better meet evolving community needs, with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable,” Robert J. Henkel, FACHE, executive vice president, Ascension, and president and chief executive officer, Ascension Health, said in a press release. “We look forward to finalizing this transaction and welcome the associates and physicians of these hospitals to Saint Thomas Health and Ascension.”

“Because of our existing partnership with Capella and our historic service to these communities, gaining full ownership of these important community providers of healthcare will allow us to better serve our patients close to where they live and work,” added Karen Springer, Saint Thomas Health president and CEO, senior vice president, Ascension Health/Tennessee ministry market executive.

During its multi-year partnership, Capella-Saint Thomas Health has expanded the services in each community, enhancing cardiac, stroke and telemedicine services. All four hospitals are part of the Saint Thomas Stroke Network and have added new telemedicine capabilities with broadening access to physicians

“To take care to the next level, we have been exploring with Saint Thomas how our partnership could best evolve to achieve our shared goals,” said Michael A. Wiechart, president and chief executive officer of Capella Healthcare. “With Saint Thomas’ national recognition for quality and their recent partnership with UT’s primary care residency program, we know that this evolution in our relationship comes at the best possible time.

“We are proud of the work we have done together and know that Saint Thomas is the right choice to continue to shape the future of health care in these communities and across Middle Tennessee,” Wiechart added.

UPDATE: The Sparta Expositor is reporting Highlands Medical Center will again be renamed – Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital. There was no word if other UC hospitals involved would follow suit. Highlands Medical Center was renamed in 2012 as part of the Capella and Saint Thomas partnership. It was formally White County Community Hospital.

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