Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives join health care forces

Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, based out of Englewood, Colo., have signed an agreement to combine and become a new Catholic health system nonprofit, officials announced Dec. 7.

The deal will combine operations across 28 states, according to a news release from Dignity Health. The new system will include more than 700 care sites and 139 hospitals. Nearly 160,000 employees and 25,000 physicians are part of the system.

“We are joining together to create a new Catholic health system, one that is positioned to accelerate the change from sick-care to well-care across the United States,” said Kevin E. Lofton, chief executive officer of CHI, in the release. “Our new organization will have the talent, depth, breadth and passion to improve the health of every person and community we serve.”

“By combining our ministries and building upon our shared mission, we will expand our commitment to meeting the needs of all people with compassion, regardless of income, ethnicity or language,” said Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, in the announcement. “We foresee an incredible opportunity to expand each organization’s best practices to respond to the evolving health care environment and deliver high-quality, cost-effective care.”

The agreement will build what the entities say will be “a stronger operational and financial foundation to expand access to quality care, build upon complementary resources and capability and reinvest in critical areas to accelerate improvements in care delivery.”

For the past 30 years, an agreement between Dignity Health and the Mark Twain Health Care District has seen Dignity Health lease the facilities and equipment at the San Andreas hospital and its clinics. Dignity Health also manages operations and employs staff to provide patient care in the county. The agreement expires at the end of 2019.

It is currently unknown whether the hospital will remain affiliated with Dignity Health. Health care district staffers are currently contemplating whether to sign an agreement with Dignity and its partners, lease to a different entity or run the hospital independently. Whatever the health care district board recommends will come before the public for a vote.

The new organization plans to continue efforts to support surrounding communities via charity care, grants and loans, according to the release. In 2017, both systems contributed $4.7 billion in charity care, community benefit and unpaid cost of government programs.

Innovation and research will be a focus. The entities plan to capitalize on existing intellectual property and research capabilities to entice entrepreneurs looking for partnership opportunities. Both organizations have experience in telehealth, micro-hospitals and precision medicine.

The new organization’s governing system will include six representatives from each board and the two CEOs.

Headquarters will be in Chicago, under a new name to be chosen in the latter part of 2018. Local facilities will retain their existing names.

Both boards have approved the deal that is anticipated to close in the second half of 2018, pending federal, state and church approvals.

Included with the announcement were “key strategic and reinvestment priorities” that include:

The expansion of community-based care, offering access to services in a variety of outpatient and virtual care settings closer to home;

Clinical programs focused on special populations and those suffering from chronic illnesses to keep people and communities healthier for longer;

Further advancement of digital technologies and innovations like stroke robots and Google Glass, which create a more personalized and efficient care experiences.

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