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23-10-2012 | Article

Catholic hospital systems contemplate union


Trinity Health

medwireNews: Two US Catholic healthcare systems are mulling a marriage of convenience that would create a coast-to-coast healthcare network with a shared "Gospel-based" mission.

Catholic Health East, based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, and Trinity Health, headquartered in Novi, Michigan, have signed a non-binding letter of intent to explore a merger of the two systems into a national network of 82 hospitals, 89 continuing care facilities, and home health and hospice programs in 21 states stretching across the nation.

The proposed and as yet unnamed new system would employ more than 87,000 people, including 4100 physicians. The combined facilities currently provide nearly 2.8 million patient visits annually, according to a statement issued jointly by the two healthcare systems.

"Trinity Health and Catholic Health East are strong Catholic health care systems that share a Gospel-based mission and an unyielding commitment to care for people who are poor and underserved," said Mary Mollison, chair of Trinity Health, in a statement. "This consolidation advances the vision of congregations of Sisters that founded these health care ministries, addresses the changing health care environment and takes a bold next step for Catholic health care."

If the merger goes ahead as planned - the parties have set a goal of reaching a definitive agreement by the spring of 2013 - the system would have estimated annual operating revenues of approximately $ 13.2 billion, assets of $ 19.3 billion, and outlays of close to $ 1 billion in charity care and community-based programs.

"The consolidation will help address the rapidly changing health care environment that requires more focus on population health and the delivery of more coordinated and integrated care and health and wellness services," according to the statement.

Catholic Health East currently runs 35 acute-care hospitals, 26 long-term care facilities, 12 assisted-living facilities, four continuing care retirement communities, eight behavioral health and rehabilitation facilities, 31 home health/hospice agencies, and ambulatory and community-based health services in 11 states along the Eastern Seaboard.

Trinity Health is the 10th largest healthcare system in the USA by total number of hospitals, and the fourth largest Catholic healthcare system by total bed count. It operates 47 acute-care hospitals, 432 outpatient facilities, 32 long-term care facilities, and home health offices and hospice programs in 10 states.

By Neil Osterweil, medwireNews Reporter