Bon Secours, Mercy Health to merge and create fifth largest Catholic health system in the U.S.

Two Catholic health ministries announced plans Wednesday to join forces and create one of the largest health systems in the country, a megamerger that spans seven states in the eastern half of the United States.

Bon Secours Health System, a not-for-profit Catholic health system with operations in Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida and New York, intends to merge with Mercy Health, a Catholic health ministry in Ohio and Kentucky.

Together, the two organizations will create the fifth largest Catholic health system in the country with $8 billion in net operating revenue and $293 million in operating income, according to an announcement about the merger. The combined systems will include 57,000 associates and more than 2,100 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians.

RELATED: 13 healthcare M&A deals that made headlines in 2017

The new system will have more than 10 million patient encounters across seven states, with 43 hospitals, more than 1,000 care sites and more than 50 home health agencies, hospice agencies, and skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

RELATED: Providence St. Joseph Health, Ascension merger would create the largest hospital operator in the U.S.

In addition, the merged systems will provide almost $2 million per day in community benefit, serving the most vulnerable patients in its service areas.

The mission, vision, values and geographic service areas of Bon Secours and Mercy Health are well-aligned and highly complementary, according to Richard J. Statuto, president and CEO of Bon Secours Health System. "This merger strengthens our shared commitment to improve population health, eliminate health disparities, build strength to address social determinants of health, and invest heavily in innovating our approaches to healthcare," Statuto said in the joint announcement.

RELATED: Dignity Health, CHI to merge and form new Catholic health system

John M. Starcher Jr., president and CEO of Mercy Health, said that “working together, our strong faith-based heritage fuels our mutual focus to provide efficient and effective healthcare for each patient who comes through our doors."

The announcement didn’t indicate who would become the leader of the new system and whether the organization will have a new name. But in an emailed response to FierceHealthcare, Bon Secours Health System spokeswoman Terri McNorton said the organizations will look at branding, including name and logo, as they work through the details of the merger.

In the coming months, Bon Secours and Mercy Health will work together to finalize a definitive merger agreement, obtain applicable approvals and complete plans to merge. While there is no specific date outlined, executives at both Mercy Health and Bon Secours expect to complete this merger by the end of the calendar year.

The Bon Secours-Mercy Health proposed deal is just the latest in a string of mergers across the healthcare industry. Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives announced plans to join forces in December; the new, nonprofit Catholic system will include 700 care sites and 139 hospitals across 28 states.

Last month, Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts and Care New England Health System in Rhode Island said they planned to move ahead with a definitive agreement to merge. And Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension are also in talks to combine. If that deal moves forward, the new system would include 191 hospitals across 27 states and would have a combined annual revenue of $44.8 billion.