Nonprofit systems Intermountain Healthcare, SCL Health close 33-hospital merger

Intermountain Healthcare and SCL Health announced Tuesday the completion of their merger into a Salt Lake City-based 33-hospital nonprofit health system.

The new organization operates under the Intermountain Healthcare brand, although the system noted some of SCL Health’s hospitals will “retain their distinctive Catholic names” and maintain their existing operating practices.

With the close, Intermountain Healthcare said it is now the eleventh largest nonprofit system in the country.

In addition to its hospitals, the organization now employs over 59,000 employees, runs 385 clinics across seven states and operates a health plan covering 1 million Utah and Idaho residents, according to the announcement. Leaders from the now-merged organizations said during September’s unveiling that the new entity is projected to bring in roughly $14.2 billion in annual revenues.

“With this merger, we’ll create a model for the future of healthcare that focuses on keeping people healthy and proactively addresses causes of illness through high-quality, affordable and accessible care to more patients," President and CEO Marc Harrison, M.D., said in a Tuesday statement. "The merger provides a model for healthcare for the rest of the country.”

Friday, Intermountain and SCL’s merger received the regulatory green light from Colorado, where the latter system was based. The state’s Department of Law had conducted a review of the merger and its impact on Colorado communities and any potential changes to SCL Health's charitable purposes.

“Based on our thorough review of the SCL Health merger with Intermountain, we determined the charitable purposes of SCL Health and its hospitals in Colorado will not materially change and no assets will leave the state as part of the transaction,” Colorado Department of Law Chief Deputy Attorney General Natalie Hanlon Leh, who served as the acting attorney general for the review, said in a statement.

The department said that it reviewed “thousands of pages of documents” from both organizations and was in “extensive communications” with SCL. Both organizations also told the state department that there would be “no material layoffs or downsizing, and there is no intention to move, close or consolidate clinical facilities” as a result of the deal.

“We received input from community members who reached out to department attorneys during our review,” Hanlon Leh said. “We will monitor SCL Health’s hospitals in Colorado over the next five years to safeguard that their charitable purposes are maintained, and Colorado communities continue to be served.”

Prior to the deal, Intermountain employed 42,000 people and owned 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, a medical group and its insurance company among other services. It was active across its home state of Utah as well as Idaho and Nevada.

SCL, a Catholic health system, brought 16,000 employees, eight hospitals and 160 physician clinics to the table. It operated in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Kansas.

Mike Leavitt will be the chair of Intermountain’s new board, which is built from members of each pre-merger organization’s board. Lydia Jumonville, SCL’s former president and CEO, will also have a place on the board while serving as the executive sponsor leading the systems’ integration process.

The new organization takes on Intermountain’s previous Salt Lake City headquarters and will have regional offices in Broomfield, Colorado, and Las Vegas.

In an online FAQ, SCL told its patients that there would be no changes in any medical services at its Montana and Colorado hospitals, accepted insurance coverage or current provider-patient relationships.

Intermountain and SCL leaders have spoken publicly about the cost efficiencies, best practices, digital capabilities and other benefits their merger would bring. They also said their new organization would remain committed to delivering care in rural communities, which are prevalent across the system’s service area.  

In 2020, Intermountain was slated to merge with Sanford Health in a deal that would have yielded a 70-hospital system. It was called off by year-end following an executive leadership change at Sanford, in which then-CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft stepped down amidst a facemask controversy.