Advocate Aurora Health, Atrium Health close megamerger, forming the nation's 5th largest nonprofit system

Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health have closed their megamerger, the health systems announced Friday.

The systems will form Advocate Health, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atrium's home turf, with a significant base in Chicago and Milwaukee, home base for Advocate Aurora. 

Advocate Health will become the country's fifth-largest nonprofit health system, serving 6 million patients annually and representing $27 billion in annual revenue. The merger unites more than 21,000 physicians and 42,000 nurses under the same umbrella and includes more than 1,000 sites of care as well as 67 hospitals, the systems said. Advocate Health is planning a new institute for health equity based in Milwaukee, according to the announcement.

Eugene Woods, CEO of Atrium, will serve as Advocate Health's CEO, and Advocate Aurora chief Jim Skogsbergh will work alongside Woods as co-CEO until his retirement in 18 months. The combined system's board will include representatives of both Atrium and Advocate Aurora, with Thomas C. Nelson, chair of Atrium Health’s board of directors, to serve as chair through December 2023.

Michele Richardson, chair of Advocate Aurora’s board of directors, will succeed Nelson for a two-year term, according to the announcement.

“Powered by 150,000 teammates—including the best and brightest physicians, nurses, researchers and faculty—we are poised to push past traditional geographic and care delivery boundaries to create a healthier tomorrow for all,” Woods said in the release.

The system will continue to use the Advocate Health Care, Aurora Health Care and Atrium Health brands in their respective communities, according to the announcement, and Wake Forest University School of Medicine will form the combined system's academic nucleus.

The health systems closed the deal one day after securing "tepid" approval from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. Stein said that, after a review, his office determined there was "no legal basis" to block the deal but warned it “intends to closely watch this deal.”

Illinois state regulators also took a closer look at the deal, and it hit a snag when the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board initially voted to reject the change of ownership request, a decision it later reconsidered.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to bring our organizations together to do more, be better and go faster to help more people live well while training the next generation of health care professionals,” said Skogsbergh in the announcement.