Alexian, Ascension Sign Letter of Intent

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , April 28, 2011

Chicago-based Alexian Brothers Health System is to become part of St. Louis-based Ascension Health. The two announced on Wednesday that they have signed a non-binding letter of intent. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Citing the challenges facing hospitals around the country and the imminent demands of healthcare reform, Alexian Brothers has been seeking a partner for two years.

Ascension Health has long been interested in acquiring additional hospitals and recently created a joint venture to provide funding for that effort. In February 2011, Ascension Health and Oak Hill Capital Partners formed Ascension Health Care Network to provide an alternative funding source for the acquisition of Catholic hospitals and other properties.

In an e-mail, Trudy Hamilton, an Ascension Health spokesperson, said the discussions between Ascension and Alexian pre-date the formation of Ascension Health Care Network.

In the Chicago area Alexian Brothers owns two medical centers, three specialty hospitals and a medical group. It also owns senior living facilities, rehabilitation services and community-based programming for the elderly in Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Ascension Health System owns or has an affiliation with 500 hospitals and other healthcare facilities in 20 states, including St. Anthony Hospital in Chicago. Under the deal, staff and leadership at Alexian are to be retained. As for governance, the ABHS Board of Governors, its subcommittees, and the system's Quality Councils will remain intact, according to a statement issued by Alexian Brothers.

"This proposed partnership is a significant step forward in the evolution of the Alexian Brothers Health System," Mark A. Frey, executive vice president of Alexian Brothers, said in a press statement. "Ascension Health shares our commitment to patient-centered care, to charity care and to strengthening Catholic healthcare nationwide. In terms of the healthcare services we provide, we expect this to be an opportunity for Alexian Brothers Health System to grow and expand."

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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