Swedish Covenant Health expected to merge with NorthShore University HealthSystem by end of 2019

Swedish Covenant Health is expected to join NorthShore University HealthSystem by the end of the year. (NorthShore University HealthSystem)(Northshore Health)

Officials at Chicago-based Swedish Covenant Health (SCH) signed an agreement for the health system to join Evanston, Illinois-based NorthShore University HealthSystem. 

Under the proposed agreement, SCH will continue to operate its full-service, acute care community hospital while joining NorthShore. Officials said the organizations will maintain their respective physician and ambulatory care networks "while expanding access to innovative patient care models."

“We share a belief that the best healthcare is local, rooted in the community and defined by positive relationships and quality services,” said NorthShore President and CEO J.P. Gallagher in a statement. “In today’s environment, we have an opportunity to transform how we deliver care through creative partnerships that develop best care practices and support long-term growth.”

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, pending regulatory approvals.

RELATED: Chicago health system Rush eyeing merger with independent Swedish Covenant: report

The announcement comes just months after it was reported that The Rush System for Health—an academic health system that includes Rush University Medical Center—and Swedish Covenant Health were eyeing a deal.

Officials said the partnership, NorthShore’s research programs, personalized medicine, and advanced specialty services will be available to SCH patients. NorthShore University HealthSystem is working with genetic testing firm Color to offer genome sequencing to 10,000 of its primary care patients. 

NorthShore officials have said they hope expanded genomic screenings could lead to more personalized care and flag risks for improved disease prevention. 

“We have an incredible opportunity to build on the expertise of two experienced institutions with a shared vision and complementary services to create transformative healthcare for the next generation,” said SCH President and CEO Anthony Guaccio in a statement. 

RELATED: NorthShore University HealthSystem teams up with Ambry Genetics to develop a ‘blueprint’ for precision medicine

NorthShore previously pursued a potential merger deal with Advocate Aurora in 2014, but a federal judge blocked it in early 2017. The two Illinois systems then agreed to abandon the merger in response.

Officials said the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation will continue to operate and fund health and wellness programs including violence prevention, housing the homeless and dental care, and NorthShore plans to make a "significant" philanthropic contribution to that foundation.  

NorthShore is a four-hospital health system with more than 900 inpatient beds as well as NorthShore Medical Group with more than 70 offices, 800 primary and specialty care physicians, and more than 8,000 employees. SCH is an independent, 312-bed nonprofit teaching hospital located on the north side of Chicago.