Baptist Memorial Health Care to Merge With NEA Clinic

Baptist Memorial Health Care of Memphis said Thursday that it will merge with the NEA Clinic of Jonesboro.

The merger creates a new health system in northeast Arkansas called NEA Baptist Health System, according to a joint news release from Baptist and the NEA Clinic, which has changed its name to NEA Baptist Clinic.

As part of the merger, NEA Clinic, the largest physician-owned medical group in Arkansas, has converted to a not-for-profit status. The transition to a nonprofit should save the clinic “hundreds of thousands” of dollars annually, said Don Pounds, chief financial officer of Baptist Memorial Health Care.

Earlier on Thursday, Pounds said Baptist would pay $20 million for the NEA Clinic – $10 million for its assets and $10 million for its 49 percent interest in NEA Baptist Hospital. He called back later Thursday and said the numbers were wrong but wouldn’t provide the correct purchase price.

NEA Baptist Health System will be an affiliate of Baptist Memorial Health Care and will manage both the NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro and the NEA Clinic.

Local management of the hospital and the clinic will remain the same under the new structure, the news release said. A board made up of the clinic doctors, Baptist officers and community members will govern the new health system.

The merger is expected to improve patient care in the area.

“This highly integrated and efficient system, including hospital and outpatient services with the patient-physician relationship at its center, is the wave of the future for patient care, much like the Mayo Clinic model of heath care,” said Dr. Robert Taylor, president of the NEA Clinic, in the news release.

In June, Baptist received approval from the city of Jonesboro to build a hospital. Construction is expected to start this year.

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