Beaumont Health, Spectrum Health complete 22-hospital merger to form Michigan's largest health system

Today marks the first official day of BHSH Health, a new 22-hospital integrated health system born of Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health’s now-closed merger deal.

Leaders of the joined organization announced yesterday that the two nonprofit health systems had met regulators’ requests for information since first announcing the deal last June. The boards of both providers provided the final approval to move forward with the merger last week, they said.

BHSH Health—a temporary name for the new entity—is now the largest health system and private employer in the state of Michigan. It employs more than 64,000 people across its hospitals, over 300 outpatient locations, several post-acute facilities and its 1.2 million-member health plan, Priority Health.

“With the launch of our new health system, our aim is to provide greater value through exceptional care and coverage that is accessible, affordable and equitable,” Tina Freese Decker, formerly the president and CEO of Spectrum Health and now the president and CEO of BHSH System, said during a press conference Monday. “We are well-positioned to transform health in our communities. We have learned so much through this pandemic and the complementary strengths of Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health will propel us forward with innovation, creativity, humility and courage, to make an impact for the people we serve.”

John Fox, Beaumont Health’s president, will be departing the organization on Feb. 4 and a national search is underway to find a replacement to lead BHSH Beaumont Health, according to the announcement.

The system also has a slew of open executive positions available, including chief strategy officer, chief people officer, chief integrity and risk officer and chief inclusion, equity, diversity and social impact officer.

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BHSH Health’s new board of directors is comprised of an equal number of representatives from Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health, with former Beaumont Health Board Chair Julie Fream taking up the same role with the new board.

While operational synergies, infrastructure investments and additional facilities were all on the table back when the deal was first announced, BHSH leadership was hesitant to highlight specific areas of focus during Monday’s call. With regulatory scrutiny and integration roadblocks in the rearview, they said the system will now be conducting a thorough review to identify its next course of action.

Still, Decker said that the system has no plans to consolidate or limit services in areas “where we don’t have any overlapping services.” With the industry in the midst of a labor shortage, she also said that she expects the system to continue “doing everything we can to recruit and retain our talented team members” throughout the integration.

Decker stressed that patients receiving care through either of the merged health systems will see no changes in their care throughout the transition.

“Patients will still have the same physician, the same place that they go to for their care, and they will still be able to work with their same insurance companies,” she said. “So, all patients should be able to access care in the same way that they do it today, and the same applies to our Priority Health members.”

BHSH Health leadership said that there weren’t any curveballs from the Federal Trade Commission during its inquiry and that the process generally fell in line with what each organization was anticipating.

Today’s launch finally fulfills Beaumont Health’s rocky efforts to merge with another provider.

Back in June 2020, Beaumont Health and Advocate Aurora Health first announced discussions surrounding a potential merger that would have resulted in a larger, 36-hospital system. The deal was axed in October that year after Michigan lawmakers and Beaumont’s own doctors raised concerns about whether the merger would worsen what they described as unsafe conditions.

Shortly prior to that, Beaumont Health had also looked to acquire Summa Health, an Akron, Ohio-based system with four hospitals. That deal was similarly called off in May 2020.