By JULIE MINDA
Mercy Health of Cincinnati and Bon Secours Health System of Marriottsville, Md., have signed a letter of intent to merge and expect to complete the combination by the end of the year. The systems said the combined organization would have 43 hospitals in seven states in the eastern half of the U.S. With combined net operating revenue of $8 billion, the new system would be the nation's fifth largest Catholic health care company, the systems said.
Although Mercy is larger than Bon Secours, the systems called the combination a "merger of equals" and said it would create economies of scale, produce significant opportunities to share best practices and improve performance, and provide future opportunities to expand into complementary service areas inside and outside of the U.S.
In a joint release issued Feb. 21, the geographically compatible ministry systems said they also are culturally aligned. "We are guided by our shared faith and commitment to partner with communities to create a more humane world, build social justice for all, especially the poor and dying," said Sr. Patricia Eck, CBS, chair of Bon Secours Ministries, the system's public juridic person.
Katherine Vestal, chair of the Mercy Health Board of Trustees, said an "alignment of mission and values makes this merger a natural fit."
The systems said their combined projected $293 million in net operating income would enable the new company to "advance its shared ministry and reinvest in community benefit."
Mercy Health President and Chief Executive John Starcher said the organizations share a vision to improve health in the communities they serve "as the low-cost, high-value provider." In the release, Bon Secours President and Chief Executive Richard Statuto said the merger would bolster the organizations' "shared commitment to improve population health, eliminate health disparities, build strength to address social determinants of health and invest heavily in innovating our approaches to health care."
Mercy Health and Bon Secours said they expect to reach a definitive agreement "in the coming months."
Although both systems have operations in Kentucky, they are not in direct competition in any markets.
Mercy Health was created in a 1986 unification of two regional communities of Sisters of Mercy as co-sponsors of their health ministries. In the late 1990s, the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, or the "Grey Nuns"; the Sisters of the Humility of Mary; and the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor joined some of their health care facilities to the Mercy Health system and joined the Mercy sisters as sponsors. In 1997, the ministry changed its name to Catholic Healthcare Partners, and that was shortened to Catholic Health Partners in 2010. The system became Mercy Health again in 2014.
Today, sisters from the legacy sponsor organizations serve on the Mercy Health board and on Mercy's public juridic person, which is called Partners in Catholic Health Ministries.
The Sisters of Bon Secours formed the Bon Secours system in 1983 to unify their health care operations, and in the ensuing years the system grew through acquisitions and joint ventures along the East Coast. The Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth of Convent Station joined the Bon Secours sisters as co-sponsoring congregations through those deals. The congregations co-sponsored the health system until 2006, when Bon Secours Ministries became the public juridic person for the health system.
Mercy Health and Bon Secours said that they are not yet able to specify their plans for the governance or sponsorship models of the combined organization. Decision-making in those areas is underway now.
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