Piedmont affiliates with Conyers hospital

Piedmont Healthcare has struck a clinical affiliation agreement with Rockdale Medical Center, the organizations announced Thursday.

Rockdale is a 138-bed hospital in Conyers, an eastern suburb of Atlanta. It is owned by LifePoint Hospitals, a Nashville-based hospital chain, and the agreement with Piedmont does not affect its ownership.

Rockdale Medical Center
Rockdale Medical Center

Piedmont said the deal represents its first such clinical affiliation. “We think this will become more common in our market,’’ said Elisabeth Wang, a spokeswoman for Piedmont Healthcare.

Atlanta-based Piedmont currently operates five hospitals, including Piedmont Atlanta Hospital in the upscale Buckhead district of the city. None of the five, though, is in the eastern suburbs.

The deal with Rockdale was finalized in August, and no money or equity was exchanged.

The agreement is a looser form of the consolidation that is shaking up the hospital industry in Georgia and nationally.

Both Piedmont and Rockdale said Thursday that the affiliation would ease referrals of patients from Rockdale County and nearby counties to the super-specialized services offered by Piedmont’s Buckhead facility.

“Right now, that market is very fragmented,’’ Piedmont’s Wang told GHN. “By this affiliation, we help the patient have better access … to a more advanced level of care.”

Piedmont has begun consulting with Rockdale Medical Center as the hospital makes interventional cardiology services available to its community. The affiliation agreement also means that Rockdale physicians can apply for membership in the Piedmont Clinic.

“Piedmont is very committed to our providing high-quality services to people in our community,’’ Sarah Teach, manager of marketing and business development for Rockdale Medical, told GHN. “We’re very excited.”

LifePoint, which operates 68 hospitals in 21 states, has similar affiliation agreements with other hospitals nationally, she said.

Rockdale CEO Deborah Armstrong said in a statement, “Our new affiliation with Piedmont Healthcare will allow our organizations to combine our strengths to enhance quality, improve healthcare efficiency and coordination as well as offer comprehensive clinical services to more patients throughout the region.”

Piedmont’s Wang said that Piedmont physicians ‘will be able to fill in the gaps’’ by delivering specialized services in the Rockdale County area.