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Ascension Buying Chicago’s Presence Health

News  |  By Philip Betbeze  
   August 22, 2017

Nonbinding letter of intent would will add 12 hospitals and numerous outpatient facilities to Ascension’s joint venture with Adventist Health System.

The nation’s largest Catholic health system is getting bigger if it completes an acquisition of Chicago’s Presence Health, detailed in a nonbinding letter of intent between the two organizations released today.

If the acquisition is completed, terms of which were not disclosed, the 12-hospital Presence Health will be added to AMITA Health, which is a Chicago-based joint venture between Ascension’s Alexian Brothers Health System, based in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and Adventist Midwest Health in Hinsdale. Adventist Midwest is part of Adventist Health System, a nine-state, 45-hospital health system based in Altamonte Springs, Florida.

All Presence Health facilities will join AMITA except Presence Life Connections, which would join Ascension Living, Ascension’s senior care subsidiary.

“Since we brought together Alexian Brothers Health System and Adventist Midwest Health to form AMITA Health two years ago, we’ve always looked for opportunities to add like-minded partners with similar values to our system,” said Mark Frey, president and chief executive officer of AMITA Health and senior vice president of Ascension Healthcare, in a press release. “Bringing Presence Health into Ascension and AMITA Health is a perfect fit and an exciting continuation of our commitment to increase access to quality healthcare in the many communities we serve.”

The press release noted that the acquisition would help Ascension manage the health of large populations more efficiently and effectively, although regulators, which still must achieve the deal, will weigh in on whether the combination would in fact result in more efficient and effective healthcare delivery in the areas affected.

Presence Health, the largest Catholic health system in Illinois, agreed to sell two hospitals to OSF Healthcare, an Illinois-based health system, earlier this month. A spokesman for Ascension did not immediately answer an emailed question about how the LOI with Ascension would affect the previously announced deal.

“We look forward to working together to engage in this joint effort to expand, and continue to deliver, quality care for our patients and residents, as well as provide additional clinical opportunities and patient care resources to all our physicians and associates.” said Michael Englehart, president and chief executive officer of Presence Health, which has been struggling financially, and reported $40 million in operating losses last year.

The Ascension press release promises that the transaction would lead to increased access to care, expand the system’s physician network and deepen sub-specialization capabilities, producing better value for patients. The LOI is expected to lead to a definitive agreement pending detailed legal and financial due diligence, along with regulatory and canonical approval.  

The Ascension Healthcare division of Ascension currently operates 141 hospitals in 22 states.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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