By LISA EISENHAUER
SCL Health announced on Thursday plans to merge its eight hospitals, 160 physician clinics and other facilities with those of Intermountain Healthcare to create a 33-hospital, 385 clinic system with more than 58,000 employees.
Lydia Jumonville, president and chief executive of SCL Health, said while the integrated system will be secular, the SCL Health hospitals will retain their Catholic names and identity. In a joint release issued Sept. 16, the systems said the merger would be a model for faith-based and secular health care systems to come together to deliver high-quality, affordable care.
SCL's Catholic hospitals "will follow all of the Catholic directives and ERDs (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services) and all of the values of the Catholic hospitals will be there," said Jumonville, a member of CHA's Board of Trustees.
She spoke at a virtual press conference to announce the merger alongside Dr. Marc Harrison, Intermountain Healthcare president and chief executive.
The pair said they have signed a letter of intent to merge their systems and expect the plans for the union to be finalized by the end of the year. They expect the merger to close early next year, pending regulatory approvals.
Based in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, Colorado, SCL Health is one of the nation's largest Catholic health care systems. Most of its facilities are in Colorado and Montana but it also has a presence in Kansas.
Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system based in Salt Lake City. Its facilities, which include 25 hospitals and 225 clinics, are primarily in Utah, Idaho and Nevada. The system was formed in 1975 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints donated its hospitals to the communities where they were located.
"Since then, we've been a secular organization without any religious connection," Harrison said.
The merged health system will operate under the Intermountain Health brand and have its headquarters in Salt Lake City, with a regional office in Broomfield.
Harrison will be president and chief executive of the merged system. Jumonville will remain in her current role during a two-year transition period and serve on a new combined Board of Trustees. The other members of the integrated board and a new leadership team will be selected from both systems.
Jumonville said each system will bring unique strengths to the union. She cited Intermountain's expertise in population health and "immense telehealth network." She said SCL Health adds expertise in governance and in building an integrated health care system across multiple states and highly competitive markets.
"I believe we're going to have as much influence on best practices as they're going to bring to us," she said.
Jumonville and Harrison said the merger was not driven by necessity on the part of either system. They stressed that both are financially sound. Harrison estimated their combined annual revenue at $14 billion.
What's brought the systems together, the pair said, is a belief that they can provide better and less costly health care by joining forces.
"We feel strongly that American health care needs to evolve towards population health and value," Harrison said. "This merger accelerates that movement regionally and nationally."
He added: "We'll bring together the best practices of both organizations, which are substantial and complementary, to provide even more clinical excellence to transform the patient experience and to help keep people healthy as well as take care of them when they're sick."