Catholic hospitals in merger talks

It doesn't appear as if the recent uptick in hospital merger-and-acquisition activity in the Chicago area is coming to an end anytime soon. Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care and Mokena-based Provena Health agreed this week, through a nonbinding letter of intent, to begin preliminary discussions about combining each of their six hospitals to form Illinois' largest Catholic-owned health system. The letter was signed Thursday.

Financial troubles for both systems partially explain the motivation behind the potential deal, according to the Chicago Tribune, although both hospitals have collaborated in the past; the two worked together as owning partners of Hammond, Ind.-based Alverno Clinical Laboratories for three years.

"We are grounded in a common history and heritage, sharing a very similar mission, set of values and enduring commitment to preserving and growing Catholic healthcare," Resurrection president and CEO Sandra Bruce said, according to a joint press release. "We believe a partnership borne from that foundation has enormous potential to truly improve the wellbeing of our communities for generations to come."

In addition to 12 total hospitals, the systems combine to offer care to 22,000 people at 28 long-term care and senior residential facilities, as well as at 50 care clinics and six home health agencies. Last year, combined operating revenues for both totaled $3 billion.

Advocate Health Care, currently Illinois' largest hospital operator, would retain that title even with a Resurrection-Provena merger, the Tribune reports. According to the newspaper, job cuts are still a possibility for the potential partners.

To learn more:
- read this Chicago Tribune article
- here's the joint press release