Baptist Memorial Health Care, one of the state’s largest health systems, and Meridian-based Anderson Regional Health System will merge in January. 

The two faith-based health systems announced the move in a press release Wednesday, though officials did not disclose the reasoning behind the decision. Baptist CEO Jason Little said in the release that he was “excited to join forces.”

“Both organizations are proud of the exceptional care we provide. ARHS has a proven track record of success in this region, and we’re very experienced in delivering care in all types of Mississippi communities,” Little said. “Together, we have more than two centuries of combined health care experience, and we want to use this knowledge and expertise to bring a new level of care to this community.” 

According to the release, the partnership will allow Baptist to serve more than half of Mississippi’s population.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Hospitals across the state have been forced to make similar moves to stay open. Nearly half of the state’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure, according to one report. 

Little’s justification of the merger to Mississippi Today contained no specifics.

“A merger will further strengthen both organizations’ ability to advocate for and invest more into patient care and our team members,” he said in a statement. “We believe everyone in the communities we serve will benefit from our alignment with an organization that shares our commitment to Christian values and quality health care. Finally, it will help us preserve care in another Mississippi community and remain resilient in the face of constant change in our industry.”

Baptist, based in Memphis, currently operates 22 hospitals in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. The not-for-profit health system is the state’s fourth largest employer and was recently deemed qualified to host a burn center and deemed a Level III trauma and primary pediatric center.

Anderson is one of east Mississippi’s most comprehensive health systems, and operates two hospitals, a regional cancer center and a network of clinics. 

“As part of our strategic plan to strengthen the mission of ARHS, a partnership with a larger health system provides a number of benefits for patients, physicians and employees,” said John G. Anderson, president and CEO of Anderson Regional Health System, in the release. “By joining Baptist Memorial, ARHS will be stronger and more equipped to meet the needs of our patients for many years to come.”

Anderson will maintain operations with local leadership after the merger. 

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.