The parent company of Wesley Medical Center said Friday that it expects to acquire Galichia Heart Hospital in the first quarter of next year.
HCA and Galichia Heart jointly announced they have signed a letter of intent for the acquisition. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Galichia Heart Hospital, founded by cardiologist Joseph Galichia, is an 82-bed acute-care hospital with a 14-bed emergency department. It has more than 350 employees and counts 150 physicians on its medical staff.
Wesley, a flagship hospital for Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA, is licensed for 760 beds and 102 bassinets. Its services include a Level I trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center. It has 3,000 employees.
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Wesley said its relationship with other referring physicians will not be affected by the acquisition.
Wesley officials said Galichia Heart will be a "welcome addition" to its facilities in the city, which include its main hospital at Central and Hillside and a standalone emergency department on the west side, at 13th and Tyler.
Wesley spokesman Paul Petitte said Galichia Heart gives Wesley a wider presence in the city.
"That plays a large part" in HCA's decision to acquire Galichia Heart, Petitte said.
Wesley CEO Hugh Tappan was not available for comment Friday afternoon.
Decisions about management changes at Galichia Heart after the acquisition is complete and whether its name will change have not been made, officials said.
Any potential name change would have to factor the brand awareness of the Galichia name, Wesley's Petitte said.
"He's built a lot of equity into his name over the years and for good reason," Petitte said.
In a statement, Galichia said it was his intent all along to someday affiliate his hospital with a much larger health care entity.
"Today's announcement realizes that long-held vision and equips us to advance our mission," Galichia said in the statement. He was not available for comment Friday.
Galichia is one of 30 owners of the privately held hospital that opened in December 2001 at 2601 N. Woodlawn.
Galichia Heart CEO Steve Harris said the hospital began exploring its options following the passage this spring of the federal health care law. He said the law placed numerous restrictions on physician-owned hospitals in terms of growth.
"That was the genesis of where we are today," Harris said. "We began at that point looking for alternatives to be able to keep our business viable in the future."
Harris said it likely will be February before a definitive acquisition agreement is reached.
"We're very optimistic of the ultimate conclusion and sale," he said.
The Galichia acquisition follows an announcement earlier this month by Wesley's competitor, Via Christi Health, that it had completed its acquisition of Wichita Clinic, bringing the 160-physician-member medical practice into its fold.
Jon Rosell, executive director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, described the Galichia Heart-Wesley deal and the Via Christi-Wichita Clinic acquisition as "seismic-level changes in our local health care marketplace."
They are changes that are reflective of health care leaders' preparation for the effects of the new health care law, and the goal of trying to deliver higher quality services at a lower cost.
"Whether or not that actually occurs, time will tell," Rosell said.