STOCKBRIDGE, Ga.— Georgia’s attorney general approved a partnership between Henry Medical Center and Piedmont Healthcare, Atlanta, clearing the way for the deal to take effect Jan. 1, 2012. The 215-bed hospital announced plans to join Piedmont Healthcare in April. The two negotiated a long-term lease agreement that would allow a local hospital authority to retain ownership of Henry Medical Center, which would become a subsidiary of Piedmont. The deal received antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission in August. That same month, the Hospital Authority of Henry County and the boards of Henry Medical Center and Piedmont together announced their approval of the terms of the agreement. “The favorable finding by the attorney general’s office is the last of several validations that a promising future as part of the Piedmont system is on the horizon,” Jeff Mills, chairman of Henry Medical Center’s affiliation steering committee, said in a joint news release. SMITHFIELD, N.C.— Johnston Health issued a request for affiliation proposals that could range from an expansion of its current service-line affiliations to a merger or sale. Johnston Health includes 175-bed Johnston Medical Center-smithfield (N.C.), as well as an ambulatory center with an emergency department and two operating rooms in Clayton, N.C.; an urgent-care clinic in Smithfield; and two physician clinics. The system does not expect the result of its search to affect existing service-line affiliations with Wake County’s three big systems: Duke University Health System, Durham, N.C.; Rex Healthcare, Raleigh, which is part of UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill; and Wakemed Health & Hospitals, Raleigh. Johnston Health has had a management-services agreement with Quorum Health Resources, the management arm of Community Health Systems, Franklin, Tenn., for about 25 years. The system is exploring new options because the reimbursement climate is worsening and endangers the system’s access to capital, according to the release. Johnston hopes to add 50 inpatient beds in Clayton and take other steps that would expand services, increase its market share and improve its financial results, spokeswoman Suzette Rodriguez wrote in an e-mail. A sale is the least likely outcome and would have to win approval from Johnston County commissioners to go into effect, Rodriguez said. LOUISVILLE, Ky.— The Jefferson County attorney’s office, which represents the Louisville metropolitan area, filed a lawsuit against the University of Louisville demanding the release of documents related to the pending three-hospital merger involving the university’s hospital. Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’connell said it’s the public’s right to see financial records regarding the deal, which would give Catholic Health Initiatives the majority stake in the hospital. The university, meanwhile, is locked in a legal dispute over disclosing merger information sought by various local media and the Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In November, the Kentucky attorney general ruled University Hospital a public entity, and thus vulnerable to the state’s open records law, a conclusion the university has challenged. The $620 million transaction also involves Denver-based CHI’S St. Joseph Health System in Lexington, Ky., and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Healthcare in Louisville. Hospital officials hope to close the deal by Jan. 1, pending the approval of Gov. Steve Beshear and the Roman Catholic Church. ROCKVILLE, Md.— Another hospital system is teaming up with another physician group, but in the joint venture between Adventist Healthcare—a fivehospital, Rockville, Md.-based system— and 700-physician, Washington-based GW Medical Faculty Associates, the physician group will be in charge of running the business and contracting with doctors. A goal of the deal is to grow the number of employed physicians, but the doctors will be employees of the joint venture and not the hospital system, according to a news release. The two organizations have formed a limited-liability company called Adventist Medical Faculty Associates, Adventist spokesman Thomas Grant said in an e-mail. Grant added that it will not operate as an accountable care organization and that Adventist Healthcare and GW Medical Faculty Associates “will have equal weight on a committee overseeing the group.” The Adventist Medical Group’s 14 employed doctors also will become employees of the new venture. WESLACO, Texas— South Texas Health System, a division of King of Prussia, Pa.based Universal Health Services, reached an agreement to acquire Knapp Medical Center, Weslaco, Texas. Knapp, a 202-bed facility, opened in 1961. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “This partnership is going to have a positive impact on the Rio Grande Valley’s access to comprehensive, quality healthcare,” Douglas Matney, regional vice president of Universal Health Services, said in a news release. South Texas Health System includes 817-bed Edinburg (Texas) Regional Medical Center and 635-bed Mcallen (Texas) Medical Center. Last year, Knapp, a tax-exempt hospital, signed a memorandum of understanding with Valley Baptist Health System, Harlingen, Texas. The talks expired without a deal.