Catholic Health Initiatives, Sylvania Franciscan Health in merger talks

June 1, 2014

Catholic Health Initiatives and SylvaniaFranciscan Health signed a nonbinding letter of intent on May 21 for Toledo, Ohio-based Sylvania Franciscan Health to join Englewood, Colo.-based CHI. The two health care systems said in a joint statement that they expect to reach an agreement on the terms of sponsorship this fall.

The organizations said that, if successful, their negotiations will bring together "two strong systems with similar missions, values and long histories of service to the communities they serve." Sylvania Franciscan Health is the sponsored health and human services ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. Under the proposal, Sylvania Franciscan Health's seven hospitals, seven long-term care facilities and four assisted living facilities and its ambulatory care centers, home health services and rehabilitation centers — facilities in Kentucky, Ohio and Texas — would become part of CHI, explained Barb Gessel, Sylvania Franciscan Health's senior vice president, human resources and communications.

Gessel said that in Ohio, the Sisters ofSt. Francis of Sylvania will continue to sponsor the Rosary Care Center, a skilled nursing facility, and Our Lady of Grace Hall, an assisted living facility, both with residents that include vowed religious; the Convent Park Apartments, which provide senior housing; Bethany House, a long-term shelter; and the Sophia Center, a counseling center. The sisters also will continue their education ministry of Lourdes University in Sylvania. CHI's public juridic person, the Catholic Health Care Federation, would become the sponsor of Sylvania Franciscan Health. The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania would become the 13th participating congregation in CHI. The sisters see the new relationship with CHI as a growth opportunity for Sylvania Franciscan Health, Gessel said.

Included in the proposed merger with CHI are Franciscan Living Communities, an elder care organization in Kentucky and Ohio; St. Joseph Health System in the Brazos Valley region of Texas, and Sylvania's interest in the Trinity Health System joint venture in Eastern Ohio near the West Virginia border. Tri-State Health Services, a secular not-for-profit, is Sylvania's partner in the joint venture, Gessel said.

If the deal goes through, CHI, one of the nation's largest Catholic health systems which operates 89 hospitals and other facilities in 18 states, would enlarge its geographic footprint in Kentucky, Texas and Ohio.

Sylvania Franciscan Health President and Chief Executive Jim Pope said in a statement, "After a substantial due diligence process to find a potential partner that shares our commitment to patients, as well as the mission of Catholic health care, we are confident CHI will enable us to continue our vision as well as the Franciscan charism that is our foundation."

Sylvania Franciscan Health said the proposed merger of its health care ministry into CHI recognizes that the health care industry is rapidly changing and a new model is evolving — one in which systems are expected to offer integrated systems of care for specific geographical populations. As a result, many smaller health systems are joining larger systems in order to expand their care continuum services within existing markets.

Kevin Lofton, CHI chief executive, said Sylvania Franciscan Health's ministries "will be strengthened through their alignment with other CHI organizations. The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, have created a strong foundation for Catholic health care, and our shared values merge to strengthen the delivery of highly reliable, quality care across the system."

The transfer of sponsorship will require approvals from the congregational minister and General Council of the Sisters of St. Francis and the CHI Board of Stewardship Trustees as well as federal, state and church authorities.


Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.