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HIMG in Huntington is shown in this file photo.

HUNTINGTON — St. Mary’s Medical Center has reached an agreement to purchase the assets of Huntington Internal Medicine Group, the area’s largest physician group practice, the two entities announced Tuesday.

The agreement has been approved by the board of directors of both organizations, and later this week, St. Mary’s plans to submit an application to the state Health Care Authority for a certificate of need. If it receives the HCA’s approval, the deal can be completed in September.

“We acknowledge that an acquisition during the COVID pandemic is unexpected,” Mike Mullins, president and CEO of Mountain Health Network, said in the release. “While this is a difficult economic time, both boards recognize the acquisition is an important investment for our region’s future and are committed to bringing it to fruition. When complete, HIMG will join SMMC, CHH and Marshall Health as we build an information technology platform to better serve all patients.”

St. Mary’s will maintain the HIMG name and HIMG physicians will continue to provide services at their current location on U.S. 60 in Huntington.

Todd Campbell, president of St. Mary’s Medical Center, says the planned acquisition means employees of HIMG will be a part of a larger, regional health system, while continuing to work in their current roles.

“If there are opportunities for career advancement at St. Mary’s, they can certainly express their interest,” Campbell said.

Campbell added that there are no plans for workforce reductions.

“The intent is to focus on making HIMG stronger, continue developing our clinically integrated network and growing our community partnership,” he said.

“For almost 50 years, HIMG has provided world-class medical services for the Tri-State,” Mark Morgan, chief executive officer of HIMG, said. “In January 2018, HIMG was a founding partner with Marshall Health and Cabell Huntington Hospital to launch the MHC Accountable Care Organization. Through this collaboration we have formed an innovative, highly coordinated, quality-driven approach in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. This partnership has demonstrated the value of working as a team to successfully coordinate and cooperate to benefit patient care.”

Dr. Daniel Snavely, chairman of the HIMG board of directors, said he served on the medical staffs at both SMMC and Cabell Huntington Hospital.

“Our founders helped to build the outstanding medical care that the Huntington area offers today,” he said. “We have been an integral part of helping Huntington grow as a health care destination and look forward to formally joining St. Mary’s and Mountain Health to provide an even higher level of technology, access and quality medical services to the community.”

HIMG was founded in 1971 and now consists of more than 60 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. St. Mary’s Medical Center is an acute care hospital with 393 licensed beds.

In addition to St. Mary’s, Mountain Health Network Inc. includes Cabell Huntington Hospital, a 303-bed teaching hospital for Marshall University Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing, and a management agreement with Pleasant Valley Hospital, a 201-bed facility with 101 licensed acute beds and 100 long-term care beds.

In 2018, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital merged to form Mountain Health Network. That happened after the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, the group that founded and ran St. Mary’s since 1924, announced in 2014 that the hospital was in financial trouble and they had to sell.

With support from Marshall University, its Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and lawmakers in Charleston, and opposition from Steel of West Virginia and the Federal Trade Commission, the two hospitals battled lawsuits and bureaucratic process to become one.

Herald-Dispatch reporter Taylor Stuck contributed to this story.

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