HCA Healthcare
March 14, 2019

SOURCE: Nashville Business Journal

AUTHOR: Joel Stinnet

HCA Healthcare Inc. has purchased a majority stake in one of the nation's largest private nursing schools, the company announced Thursday.

HCA (NYSE: HCA) is one of the largest employers of nurses in the country, with more than 94,000 working across the company’s 185 hospitals.

HCA's new stake in the parent company of the Galen College of Nursing will provide more career development opportunities for existing HCA nurses while allowing Galen to establish nursing programs at HCA facilities, according to a news release.

One potential benefit for HCA is that Galen could become a feeder system, producing new nurses the hospital chain might hire at a time when that skill is in short supply nationwide. HCA's announcement bills Galen as one of the nation's largest private nursing schools. The college says it has 5,000 enrolled students at one of its campuses or in its online program.

“Nurses are the lifeblood of our organization, and we’ve been intentional about investing in nursing so they can be successful and provide the best possible patient care,” HCA CEO Sam Hazen said in the release. “Galen has an excellent reputation in nursing education, and we look forward to working with them to advance their mission and expand their programs to more of our markets.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Louisville campus of the privately owned Galen College of Nursing, which has locations in four other cities as well as an online program. WILLIAM DESHAZER

HCA is Nashville’s largest publicly traded company with $46.6 billion of revenue in 2018, according to Nashville Business Journal research. HCA already owns two nursing schools, Research College of Nursing and Mercy School of Nursing, as well as five advanced nursing simulation training centers.

This is the first purchase Hazen has announced since taking over the hospital giant three months ago, succeeding Milton Johnson. In HCA's most recent earnings call, Hazen hinted at impending dealmaking. HCA issued $1.5 billion of senior secured notes in January with the intent to use the proceeds for “general corporate purposes, which may include acquisitions.”

The company has been active on the M&A front in recent months, moving into two new markets with the purchase of Savannah, Georgia-based Memorial Health in February of last year and buying Asheville-based system Mission Health in a deal that closed last month. The company is also in talks to expand its footprint in New Hampshire by purchasing Frisbee Memorial Hospital.

Galen's main campus is in Louisville. The school has four other locations: San Antonio, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, and Hazard, Kentucky. Galen had about 2,000 students at its Louisville campus in the fall 2018 semester, according to Louisville Business First, a sister outlet of the Nashville Business Journal. The college is 30 years old this year.

The school will remain Galen College of Nursing and will continue to be led by its chief executive officer Mark Vogt.

“Every interaction with HCA Healthcare has reinforced that we share common ideals and cultural expectations of excellence,” Vogt said in the release. “We are extremely excited about building on the synergies between nursing practice and nursing education, and the possibilities this unlocks for years to come. It is an incredible milestone for Galen and we have confidence that this union will not only strengthen our ability to carry out our mission, but to expand our vision.”