Intermountain-owned physician group Saltzer Health closes

This story was updated April 1, 5 pm ET

Intermountain Health shuttered Saltzer Health, a multispecialty group the system acquired less than four years ago, after it failed to find a buyer for the provider.

Based in southwest Idaho, Saltzer Health had been one of the state's oldest and largest primary care groups. in operation for 63 years, the company had 450 employees and clinicians spread across 11 locations. 

Saltzer Health announced back in January that it would close if it couldn't find a buyer by March 29. The medical group attributed the closing to "ongoing financial and economic pressures and challenges that it and other health institutions nationwide were facing."

"Like many health systems across the country, Saltzer has faced significant financial pressures as the rising cost of providing care, driven by inflation, has increased since the pandemic. Vital contracts and other market relationships also did not progress as had been hoped for, resulting in the loss of several millions of dollars each month for the health system making continuation unsustainable," the group wrote in an announcement posted to its website Monday.

Intermountain Health — which runs 33 hospitals and 385 clinics across seven states, according to its website —had acquired the group practice in 2020. Idaho Statesman noted that the large nonprofit scrubbed nearly all logos and other mentions of its branding from Saltzer Health’s website upon the release of the news.

The closure risked ending services at the Treasure Valley region’s only 24-7 urgent care, limit the area’s pregnancy care options and, according to a clinical leader cited by the Idaho Statesman, leave the group’s roughly 100,000 annual patients in need of new providers.

Saltzer Health said it was able to negotiate agreements to sell key services to Saint Alphonsus Health System and Intermountain Medical Imaging of Idaho.

The gruop is selling its ambulatory surgery center in Meridian, and two urgent care centers in Meridian to Saint Alphonsus Health System.

Saltzer is also selling its imaging center in Meridian to Intermountain Medical Imaging.

"These agreements help provide much-needed stability and continuity of care for the residents of the Treasure Valley community as Saltzer ceases operations," the group wrote.

“Our goal during this challenging process was to ensure that as many medical services as possible continue to operate and serve the healthcare needs of the community,” said Jana Huffman, assistant vice president for the Intermountain Medical Group, in a statement. “We appreciate this collaboration with Saint Alphonsus and Intermountain Medical Imaging so that residents in the Treasure Valley will continue to have access to convenient and affordable urgent care, surgery services, and imaging services.”

The urgent care centers closed on March 29, while Saint Alphonsus completes the installation of new IT equipment and an electronic medical record system. The urgent care clinics will reopen in May, according to the announcement.

Intermountain Medical Imaging will briefly close the Imaging Center at Ten Mile Clinic to allow for a transition before opening back up by the end of April.

“We look forward to being able to support continuity of care and expand essential outpatient imaging access within the community,” said Wayne Baldwin, CEO of Intermountain Medical Imaging, in a statement. 

With the purchase of these imaging services, Intermountain Medical Imaging also commits to offering positions to several current Saltzer Health imaging center employees who have been integral in the day-to-day operations, the provider said.

Saltzer Health said several other providers have announced they will be staying in the Treasure Valley to continue serving their patients either with other medical groups or by starting their own practice. Multiple Saltzer Health clinic locations will remain open under a new name, with the space being leased to other healthcare providers. Many former Saltzer Health physicians will work at those new clinics, the provider said.

Saltzer also said it is working with a third-party vendor, Datavant, to securely manage patients' medical records for a minimum of ten years.

Though financial headwinds have brought tough times for providers, several industry players have been open to purchasing primary care, urgent care clinics and other ambulatory locations to expand their networks.