Health care systems announce intended mergers, affiliations

Separate announcements of intended mergers and affiliations affecting Catholic health care systems serving in the Diocese of Peoria were made in early February.

On Feb. 1, it was announced that Rockford Health System has entered into an affiliation agreement with Peoria-based OSF Healthcare System. Pending federal and state regulatory approval, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford and Rockford Health System will join to form the OSF Northern Region.

Two days later, Provena Health and Resurrection Health Care, both based in the Chicago area, signed a non-binding letter of intent to explore merging the two health care systems. Provena Health is a system of six hospitals that includes Provena Covenant Medical Center in Urbana and Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville.

One of Rockford’s largest employers, Rockford Health System has more than 3,500 employees, physicians and volunteers. Its facilities and groups includes Rockford Memorial Hospital, a 396-licensed bed facility that first opened its doors in 1885.

OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, meanwhile, is a 254-bed facility on a 100-acre campus in Rockford. A member of OSF HealthCare, an affiliate corporation of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, it has more than 2,000 employees.

The affiliation agreement follows months of work, according to a joint statement issued by Rockford Health System and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.

“By combining our talents, resources and technology going forward, we will best ensure the long-term viability of high quality, accessible and affordable health care in the Rockford region,” said the statement.

The affiliation continues and enhances “the rich histories of health care each organization brings,” according to the statement.

“A commitment has been made to continue operating both Rockford Memorial Hospital and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center,” it says. Gary Kaatz, president and CEO of Rockford Health System, will become chief executive officer of the OSF Northern Region. David A. Schertz, president and CEO of OSF Saint Anthony’s, will become its chief operating officer.

The intended merger between Provena Health and Resurrection Health Care would create the single largest Catholic healthcare network in Illinois, according to a joint news release. The “merger of equals” would span 12 hospitals, 28 long-term care and senior residential facilities, more than 50 primary and specialty care clinics and six home health agencies.

It would create one of the state’s largest health systems, with a combined medical staff of nearly 5,000 physicians supported by a combined team of more than 22,000 employees.

“As providers of Catholic health services, we have a special calling to work together for the benefit of all we serve, improving access, enhancing clinical capabilities and stewarding our resources,” said Guy R. Wiebking, president and CEO of Provena Health, which is based in Mokena.

Provena Health is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Resurrection Health Care is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Sisters of the Resurrection.

The two systems will continue exploratory talks regarding potential benefits and terms of a merger.

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