Stringfellow Memorial Hospital in Anniston will soon have a new owner.

Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, one of the largest publicly traded hospital companies in the United States, announced this morning the approximately $7.6 billion purchase of Health Management Associates, which owns Stringfellow and nearby Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden. HMA is a Florida-based for-profit company that operates 71 hospitals in 15 states.

Stringfellow Memorial is a 125-bed, acute-care hospital with a staff of approximately 170 physicians in 30 medical specialties. According to the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, the hospital employs 333 workers. Stringfellow recently completed a $7.4 million expansion, adding three new operating rooms and 16 new waiting rooms.

According to a press release from Community Health, boards of directors of both companies unanimously approved the agreement. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2014 and is subject to approval by a 70 percent vote of HMA’s stockholders, antitrust clearance, receipt of other regulatory approvals, the absence of certain adverse developments and customary closing conditions, the press release states.

The purchase price includes the assumption of approximately $3.7 billion of debt from HMA. Upon completion of the transaction, Community Health will own or operate approximately 206 hospitals in 29 states with a bed count of more than 31,000.

"This compelling transaction provides a strategic opportunity to form a larger company with a diverse portfolio of hospitals that is well positioned to realize the benefits of health care reform and to address the changing dynamics of our industry,” said Wayne T. Smith, chairman, president and CEO of Community Health Systems. “Our complementary markets and the ability to form networks in key states, along with the synergies that will be available to us, can create value for the shareholders of our companies, the communities we serve, our employees and medical staffs."

Stringfellow will be the second Calhoun County hospital to change hands in recent months. Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center bought Jacksonville Medical Center from Tennessee-based Capella Healthcare in December for $6 million.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.