Palmetto Health announced Thursday it plans to partner with with Greenville Health System to create a new not-for-profit, locally governed company, becoming the largest health system in South Carolina with 13 hospitals and hundreds of physician practices.

In a joint statement released Thursday, Palmetto Health and Greenville System say the new health company will have the scale, scope and resources required to address the serious health issues of South Carolina residents, while also making health care more affordable and accessible.

Nearly half of South Carolinians will be within 15 minutes of the new health company’s physician practices, hospitals and other health care facilities, according to the statement. Additionally, because of its scale, the new company will have the potential to invest up to an additional $1 billion over the next five years in programs, technology, facilities and team members.

“Both organizations are committed to ensuring our community members receive the health care they need, regardless of their ability to pay. Our integration to become a new health company continues our commitment to serving our patients. We will create a culture that attracts, retains and develops the highest quality and diversity of team members, and continue to teach the next generation of physicians and other caregivers,” said Palmetto Health Chief Executive Officer Charles D. Beaman Jr.

“Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health are joining together from individual positions of strength,” said Greenville Health System Chief Executive Officer Michael C. Riordan. “We have a long history of successful collaboration, as well as a strong cultural fit and mutual commitment to make South Carolina healthier. Together we will continue to ensure our community members, including those in rural areas, have access to high-quality, locally based care.”

A newly organized board with equal representation from Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will oversee the new health company. Riordan and Beaman will serve as co-CEOs of the new company and share leadership responsibilities.

While new company will be the largest private employer in South Carolina, with more than 28,000 team members and 2,800 physicians, Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will remain separately incorporated not-for-profit entities. Patients will continue to be patients of Greenville Health System or Palmetto Health.

Both organizations are seeking necessary third-party approvals to move forward with the partnership. In the meantime, Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will continue to offer care and services as two separate, independent organizations.