Ascension, Presence Health combine to form nation's largest Catholic system

Business executives shaking hands
A Chicago merger deal has created the nation’s largest Catholic-affiliated healthcare system. (Image: Getty/Martin Barraud)

The nation’s largest Catholic-affiliated healthcare system was created this week when Presence Health officially merged with St. Louis-based Ascension Health.

The merged entities have created a system with a powerful base in greater Chicago.

Presence brings 10 hospitals into the system and it will operate within Amita Health, a joint venture between Ascension and Adventist Midwest Health that includes 19 hospitals in and around Chicago, 274 outpatient sites, 7,500 physicians and $4.5 billion in revenue.

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“We are so pleased to welcome the associates, providers and volunteers of Presence Health to Ascension,” said Ascension CEO Anthony R. Tersigni in a statement.

“By combining our strengths and learning from one another, we will strengthen Catholic healthcare and our ability to provide compassionate, personalized care in Illinois and in every community across the country where we are privileged to serve.”

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The merged entities did not disclose specific plans moving forward, although the statement suggested that Presence's accountable care organization operations would be folded into Amita Health's.

The deal is among the latest mergers planned or consummated involving Catholic healthcare systems. Bon Secours Health System and Mercy Health announced last month they intend to merge. Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives also announced their intent to merge late last year.

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

Despite the merger and the positive statements, Ascension is laying off staff at various parts of its system, including Milwaukee and Detroit. “The whole organization is disorganized,” a physician told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Providence St. Joseph and Ascension also engaged in merger talks late last year, although there has been little to emerge so far from those potential negotiations.

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Kaufman Hall's Healthcare Merger & Acquisition Report for Q1 found mergers and acquisitions in healthcare dropped off slightly in the first quarter.