2 hospitals rumored in merger talks Harbor Hospital and Helix Health refuse to comment

A challenge to Hopkins

Better care and lower costs are foreseen

October 03, 1995|By ALEC MATTHEW KLEIN | ALEC MATTHEW KLEIN,SUN STAFF

Helix Health, a burgeoning health care system in its first year of operations, has been holding merger talks with Harbor Hospital Center, sources said yesterday, but the deal isn't done.

Helix Health is also talking with several other local health care providers, working out 90-day exclusive negotiating agreements, sources said.

Harbor Hospital would be the fifth area hospital to join Helix, which already boasts 1,300 hospital beds, 9,300 workers and more than $500 million in revenue generated from its core medical centers: Good Samaritan, Union Memorial, Franklin Square and Church Home.

Helix Health officials yesterday declined to comment about the proposed deal with Harbor Hospital.

"Institutions don't like to prematurely release information about discussions that might go nowhere," said Helix Vice Chairman Michael Merson.

Asked about the proposed deal, Harbor Hospital spokesman Chad Dillard said, "I'm not aware of anything."

Harbor Hospital, founded in 1903, is a midsize, not-for-profit hospital on South Hanover Street with 376 beds, about 500 people on its medical staff and an estimated $100 million in annual revenue.

If the Harbor Hospital deal is completed, Helix will

further challenge the dominant player in the field: the Johns Hopkins Health System, an organization that has more than 1,600 beds, 8,432 nonmedical employees and revenue exceeding $800 million.

Helix, with headquarters at Greenspring Station in Lutherville, began its first year on July 1 with a $556 million budget, providing services in August as a system to health maintenance organizations and other insurers.

The idea behind a huge Helix, company officials say, is to give patients better care at lower costs.

Helix, a company run by physicians, offers a network of primary and specialty doctors, nursing home beds, rehabilitation and other services throughout Baltimore city and Baltimore and Harford counties.

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