Erlanger Health System, Chattanooga’s largest hospital network, will be acquiring Murphy Medical Center. As terms of the deal, Erlanger will acquire all assets and liabilities, including the 25-bed hospital, 5 office buildings, and 400 employees; manage and own the facilities; and be the governing authority, retaining a local board solely in an advisory capacity. The complete takeover was deemed necessary following Erlanger’s failed attempt to turn around Hutcheson Medical Center. The deal has been two years in the making, with Erlanger expanding helicopter service into North Carolina and Murphy Medical selling off its 134-bed nursing home last year. Murphy turned a profit in 2017 and is now in-the-black, but CEO J. Michael Stevenson believes merging with a larger hospital was the inevitable fate for a rural hospital in the South. Small hospitals don’t have the resources to keep up with regulatory compliance, and Murphy has had difficulty recruiting doctors for years. In the interest of patient welfare for the 45,000 residents Murphy serves in Cherokee, Graham, and Clay counties, Stevenson preferred to see a smooth transition. The hospital will change hands April 1.