BJC HealthCare, Saint Luke's Health System close $10B nonprofit health system merger

BJC HealthCare of St. Louis and Saint Luke’s Health System of Kansas City have officially completed their cross-market deal to merge into a single integrated, academic nonprofit health system.

The Missouri organizations’ arrangement brought Saint Luke’s under BJC’s organizational umbrella on Jan. 1. Though the two are maintaining responsibility for their original markets and branding, the new partners said they now operate as a single healthcare organization of 24 hospitals and 44,000 employees.

“From the moment we first explored the concept of an integrated system, we have had a clear vision to improve health care in the Midwest,” Richard Liekweg, CEO of the combined organization, called BJC Health System, said in a Tuesday statement. “By working together to deliver extraordinary clinical care and becoming the region’s premier destination to practice medicine, we will enhance patient care and accelerate medical breakthroughs. Today … we take the first step in making that vision a reality.”

Prior to the merger unveiled last May, St. Louis-based BJC Healthcare spanned the greater St. Louis, southern Illinois and southeast Missouri regions. Among its hospitals were Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s, which are affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine. It also operated multiple health service organizations providing home health, long-term care, workplace health and other offerings.

Kansas City, Missouri-based Saint Luke’s was a faith-based system with more than 100 locations throughout western Missouri and parts of eastern Kansas. It also provided home care and hospice, adult and children’s behavioral care and a senior living community.

Together, BJC Health System now counts roughly $10 billion in revenue and anticipates annual community impact of $1 billion, the organization said. The merger also opens the door to broader research, innovation and clinical collaboration opportunities, it said, and expands patient access to over 3,500 clinical trials.

In prior announcements and an online FAQ, BJC said its merger would also support greater financial resiliency and help attract and retain talent.

“Over time, our integrated system will be in a position to create a more seamless patient experience with additional resources to invest in medical advancements and innovation that will enhance the care we provide,” the organization said in the FAQ. “With an even stronger financial foundation, the integrated system will be able to invest in new and innovative ways to deliver care, such as the expansion of virtual health capabilities or development of alternative care sites, for the benefit of the broader community.”

BJC said there are no interruptions to patient care or access to resources resulting from the merger, and added that there will be “no immediate changes to our insurance carrier relationships that would impact a patient’s relationship with our health system.”

Underneath Liekweg at the new organization is now BJC Health System President Nick Barto, who also serves as president of the Eastern Region (BJC HealthCare), and Julie Quirin, who was named president of the Western Region (Saint Luke’s). Melinda Estes, M.D., the former CEO of Saint Luke’s, was slated to retire alongside the merger.