UCI Health, the clinical enterprise of University of California, Irvine, is set to purchase four hospitals from the Tenet Healthcare Corporation, including Lakewood Regional and Los Alamitos medical centers.

The $975 million deal for Tenet’s Pacific Coast Network was announced earlier this month and also includes Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Placentia-Linda Hospital.

“We are excited to … extend the benefits of our compassionate, high-level care, clinical innovation, and scientific discovery,” UCI Health President and CEO Chad Lefteris said in a statement. “As Orange County’s only academic health system, UCI Health is unique in its ability to offer the highest level of advanced care powered by the research and innovation of a world-class public research institution.”

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The Lakewood and Los Alamitos hospitals are part of the Greater Long Beach’s health care service area, which also includes Long Beach Memorial, St. Mary Medical Center and College Medical Center.

UCI Health currently delivers care at UCI Medical Center — the university’s primary teaching hospital — as well as a growing network of multispecialty centers.

The university declined to comment on its plans for the four hospitals, including the potential of expanding UCI’s teaching capacity or if there will be opportunities for partnerships with medical programs at Long Beach City College, Cal State Long Beach or other institutions.

“UCI Health does look forward to working with the hospitals’ staff and the community to support our shared mission to provide patients with the best healthcare available,” spokesperson John Murray said in an email Wednesday.

Pending “customary” regulatory approvals, clearances and closing conditions, the sale is expected to be completed in the spring. The transaction would expand “access to advanced therapies in the region’s largest and most diverse portfolio of clinical trials,” the announcement states — “from cancer to neurosciences, digestive diseases, orthopedics and internal medicine specialties.”

The transaction is not expected to cause disruption in patient care at any of the facilities, according to the announcement.

Fountain Valley is the largest of the hospitals with 400 beds, followed by Lakewood with 172, Los Alamitos with 167 and Placentia-Linda with 114.

UCI operates the only Level I trauma center in Orange County, a region with a larger population than 19 states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The organization also operates a locally based National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, high-risk perinatal-neonatal service and is the largest regional burn center in Orange County.

Among the nation’s comprehensive academic health systems, UCI is consistently ranked in the top 10 for quality and safety, according to the university.

“Our four hospitals have provided high-quality care for Orange County and Los Angeles County residents for over 50 years,” said Saum Sutaria, M.D., Chairman and CEO, Tenet Healthcare. “UCI Health is an innovative academic health system with a deep commitment to enabling accessibility to world-class, academic medicine closer to home. Integrating these hospitals into their system will meaningfully enhance access to the benefits of university medicine.”

The motive behind the Southern California sale by Tenet, as well as the recent sale of three South Carolina Hospitals and related operations for $2.4 billion, is unclear. Tenet did not respond to request for comment.

In the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2023, the Texas-based health care provider reported a net income of $470 million, according to public financial reports. The income marks a 15.8% decrease year-over-year. Tenet’s annual net income in 2022 was $410 million but, while strong, was a more than 55% decrease from a staggering $915 million in 2021.

In 2019 and 2020 combined, Tenet netted $156 million.