NorthShore University HealthSystem, Edward-Elmhurst Health unveil merger plans

NorthShore University HealthSystem and Edward-Elmhurst Health announced plans Wednesday to merge under a new nine-hospital parent entity.

The resulting system would employ roughly 25,000 people and more than 6,000 physicians, according to the announcement. Its hospitals and over 300 ambulatory facilities would serve a region of more than 4.2 million Illinois residents.

The systems’ deal is pending regulatory review but is targeting a 2021 close. The partners did not disclose other terms of the merger.

"NorthShore and Edward-Elmhurst Health share a vision of delivering expanded access to a transformative, differentiated patient care experience," said J.P. Gallagher, president and CEO of NorthShore in a statement. "By working together, we will connect patients and communities to personalized care, advanced clinical solutions and innovative technologies through improved access, expertise and services."

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Should the deal go through, the systems plan to maintain existing physician and medical groups. They also said they intend to organize the joined system into two regions corresponding with the original systems—the NorthShore region and the Edward-Elmhurst region.

Gallagher would receive the nod as president and CEO of the combined organization. Mary Lou Mastro, president and CEO of Edward-Elmhurst Health, would take a spot on the executive team as CEO of the system’s Edward-Elmhurst region.

Alongside the merger plans, the health systems announced they would each be directing $100 million into new investment funds for their respective communities. They said they anticipate that the funds will generate millions in interest that will support organization partnerships focused on health equity, well-being and local economic growth.

"[Our systems] share values and a vision for the future that gives us a strong foundation to create a needed regional alternative offering vibrant, community-connected healthcare,” Mastro said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our staff and clinical partners in transforming the future of healthcare through their expertise, compassion and commitment."

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Evanston, Illinois-based NorthShore University HealthSystem is the larger of the new partners with six hospitals and more than 17,000 team members. The nonprofit has annual revenues of $3.2 billion and is the principal teaching affiliate for the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Edward-Elmhurst Health was formed in 2013 and runs three hospitals located in the western and southwestern suburbs of Chicago. It has 8,500 employees and annual revenues exceeding $1 billion.

Hospital mergers have been moving at a steady clip through 2021, with Kaufman Hall noting that systems are often pursuing partnerships over acquisitions of a single independent hospital.

Providers’ deal-making is coming under some additional scrutiny, however, with President Joe Biden instructing the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at healthcare mergers that could potentially harm patients.