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Published on August 12, 2020

Cone Health Plans to Merge with Sentara Healthcare

The merger promises more options and greater affordability in a system of care tailored to meet the needs of our local communities.

Cone Health has signed a letter of intent to merge with Norfolk, Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare. The merger will create a combined organization with a unique value-based approach that is focused on keeping people healthy and well, while providing high-quality, accessible and affordable health care in more ways and in more places.

The Cone Health Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with this letter of intent.

“As two of the top-performing health systems in the United States, Cone Health and Sentara Healthcare share similar missions, strategies and cultures,” says FD Hornaday, chair of the Cone Health Board of Trustees. “This planned merger positions our organizations to address more effectively the toughest challenges facing health care systems: increasing access and affordability.”

The communities served by Cone Health and Sentara do not overlap. As a result, the combined organization will ensure that consumers have more choices for health care and insurance plans, not fewer. The merger will deliver health care in more ways and more places with more options to pay for it.

“Cone Health is among the highest-quality health care organizations in the nation, and we are financially strong. With the right partner, we can build on what we’ve created and do even more for those we are privileged to serve,” says Terry Akin, CEO, Cone Health. “We have long said that Cone Health doesn’t intend to grow simply for the sake of growth. Instead, we are partnering for inspiring possibilities.”

Howard Kern, president and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, will lead the combined organization from the Norfolk headquarters. Greensboro will serve as the regional headquarters for the Cone Health division. Cone Health CEO Terry Akin will remain in Greensboro as president of the Cone Health division. There will be health insurance plan headquarters in both Greensboro and Norfolk. Cone Health will continue providing strong economic and civic leadership and support to the communities it serves.

“This rapidly changing health care environment requires tremendous transformation and innovation to ensure the long-term success of each respective health system and, most importantly, the very best for our patients and health plan members,” said Howard P. Kern, president and chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. “We can either react to change, or we can shape it. We are choosing to shape change and will lead this transformation of health care together.”

Currently, nothing changes for patients, physicians, staff or health plan members at Cone Health and Sentara. Patients can expect the same high level of care from the same doctors and staff at the same locations they use today.

Cone Health representatives will join the Sentara Healthcare board, with membership on all board committees and meaningful roles in all aspects of governance. Additionally, there will continue to be a Cone Health Regional Board that will be composed of community members, medical staff and Sentara representation.

The merger is subject to state and federal review and customary closing conditions. It should be formalized by mid-2021. It is expected to take up to two years to fully combine and integrate the organizations. In the meantime, both organizations and their leadership teams will operate as usual.

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