Erlanger in talks to take over North Carolina hospital

Erlanger Medical Center is shown in this file photo.

With a growing presence in Southeast Tennessee, Erlanger Health Systems also is looking at expanding into North Carolina.

Erlanger is in talks to possibly buy, lease or manage the nonprofit Murphy Medical Center, comprising a 25-bed hospital, a nursing home, an athletic rehabilitation center and other facilities that serves about 44,000 people in western North Carolina.

Murphy administrators have said they're seeking a strong partnership in an increasingly fraught health care environment. And Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel said a relationship with Murphy fits the health system's mission.

"This is a very positive thing and we're excited about it," Spiegel said.

"Ultimately, our goal is to improve population health throughout the region, decrease the cost of health care and improve it at the same time," he said. "I think the exploration of this opportunity is clearly aligned to Erlanger's mission of being an academic tertiary referral source for our service area.