A new health system is being formed in East Texas, bringing together East Texas Medical Center and The University of Texas system, according to a press release issued Wednesday morning.

ETMC had been “looking for a strategic partner” since April, following the system’s downgrade by Moody’s Investor Services to basically junk bond status.

“After a deliberate and thoughtful process, our Board of Directors is pleased to select Ardent Health Services and the University of Texas System as the right partners for ETMC to take up our mission of care,” said Elmer G. Ellis, president and CEO of ETMC. “This acquisition will allow ETMC to grow and thrive in the East Texas region, with new partners who can best provide the necessary clinical expertise, operational proficiency, employee development and financial resources to deliver the best care possible for our patients.”

The UT System will contribute its Tyler-based UT Health Northeast hospital and 12 physician clinic operations to the new 10-hospital system. The newly created health system will expand medical education, research and community health. It will be an affiliate of the world-renowned University of Texas System, one of the largest academic and health systems in the country.

The deal will have to be approved by the UT Board of Regents.