Mayo Clinic is expanding into Georgia.

The nonprofit heath provider announced Thursday that it is acquiring Satilla Health Services, which will be integrated with the Mayo Clinic Health System. It was a non-cash transaction, said Bob Brigham, the chief administration officer at the Jacksonville, Florida location of the Clinic.

The acquisition brings Mayo Clinic Health System’s presence to six states — Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona, Florida and now Georgia. Satilla has a 231-bed hospital, an off-campus rehabilitation center and sleep center, and two nursing homes. In 2010, it had 8,323 admissions with more than 43,000 emergency room visits.
Brigham said Satilla will become part of Mayo Clinic Jacksonville’s operating unit and Mayo will assume the assets and liabilities of the institution.

The process began three years ago when Mayo began to look for potential expansion targets in an area spanning south Georgia and the upper half of Florida, Brigham said. The very first meeting with officials at Satilla convinced counterparts at Mayo that their cultures were similar.

“They are very committed to quality care and have very high patient-satisfaction scores,” Brigham said. “They were keenly interested (in belonging to a larger model) right away and were wiling to be physician led.”

As a result, effective yesterday, Kenneth Calamia, a doctor in rheumatology in Jacksonville, is Satilla’s CEO of the Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross, Georgia. Robert Trimm, Satilla’s president and CEO, will assume the role of chief administrative officer.

Brigham said that although he won’t rule out these types of transactions in the future, Mayo is more likely to expand access by making other health providers part of the Affiliated Practice Network model, or what is known as the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

“When we started three years ago, we did not have APN model that we have now,” he said. “Through this, the practices remain independent, but they become part of the Mayo network and can access the expertise through e-consults.”

Currently, two health systems in North Dakota and Arizona have joined the network and nine more health centers are interested, said Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy on Feb. 23, while discussing the organization’s 2011 financial performance.

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