Nashville group intends to buy Bristol Hospital

Bristol Hospital officials announced Wednesday that it is in the process of being acquired by Vanguard Health Systems, a Nashville-based network of for-profit hospitals.

The hospital’s parent company, Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group, signed a letter of intent to be acquired by Vanguard, which owns 28 hospitals in Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas.

Marie O’Brien, chairwoman of the hospital’s board of directors, said in a statement that the move “honors the long-standing heritage of Bristol Hospital and its mission to care for the patients and families in our communities.”

“By becoming part of a high-performance integrated care network with new financial resources, clinical excellence and innovative opportunities presented under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the board is assured that our commitment to care will continue for generations to come,” she said.

The 134-bed hospital is planning renovations to its main campus, expanding its outpatient services, and expects that joining the Vanguard network will help it attract and retain top doctors.

Both companies are expected to prepare a purchasing agreement over the next 60 days. The acquisition must be approved by the state Office of Health Care Access and the state attorney general’s office.

The announcement makes Bristol the latest in a long series of Connecticut hospitals forming affiliations as they attempt to navigate a changing health care landscape. This summer, Yale-New Haven Hospital acquired The Hospital of St. Raphael. In the Hartford area, Hartford Hospital’s parent company has grown to include several other facilities, including Windham Hospital, MidState Medical Center in Meriden and The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain and Southington. The parent company of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford has also grown to include Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs. Waterbury and St. Mary’s hospitals had planned to form a joint venture with an outside company that would have created a single hospital in the city, but that plan fell apart this summer.

Bristol Hospital also has a network agreement with the Yale-New Haven health system, which includes coordinating joint clinical programs and protocols for patients who get transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital.