St Francis Plans To Join St. Louis-Based Health Network
BY WILLIAM WEIR
January 16, 2013
St. Francis Care said Wednesday it plans to join Ascension Health, the largest Catholic health network in the U.S.
Both organizations have signed a letter of intent in which St. Francis would join the Missouri-based health network.
Chris Dadlez, president and CEO of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, said that if everything goes according to plan, state and federal regulatory requirements will be secured within six months to a year. St. Francis is currently not-for-profit, but would become a taxable, for-profit organization if the deal goes through. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed Wednesday.
St. Francis Care is the parent organization of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, which is the largest Catholic hospital in New England. Officials for the hospital said they didn't expect that the deal would lead to any immediate changes in staffing.
Dadlez said the deal would help St. Francis adapt to anticipated changes in health care expected under the Affordable Health Care Act. Among those changes, he said, is that reimbursement from Medicare will move to bundled payments, rather than payments for every service, "and it's up to you to manage that."
It's a change that will require rethinking the hospital's infrastructure and repositioning physicians. Work has already begun toward that goal, he said, but he said more financial resources were needed.
"There's so much more to be done as an organization," he said. "We needed to secure a partner with the financial capital to get to that next level."
He said St. Francis is working toward "population management," in which a patient's different health services are better coordinated and there is more at-home treatment. Dadlez said Ascension Health has proven successful in that kind of restructuring.
Leo Brideau, president and CEO of Ascension Health Care, said changes would mostly affect people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
"We want to be your partner to help manage and maintain your health throughout your life," he said. "It can't be hospitalcentric anymore."
Founded in 1897, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center has 616 beds and 65 bassinets. Ascension Health Care has more than 500 locations in 19 states and in Washington, D.C.
Both organizations are Catholic-affiliated and follow the church's policies for reproductive health services. St. Francis currently does not perform abortions or tubal ligations, a policy that Dadlez said will not change after joining Ascension.
That means the deal would avoid the complications that have plagued attempts to merge Catholic-affiliated hospitals with secular organizations.
After more than a year of negotiations, for instance, an attempt to merge Waterbury Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital fell through last year when it became apparent that they couldn't resolve differences over reproductive health.
In the last few years, hospital mergers and partnerships have become increasingly common in the state and in the U.S.
Last year, Yale-New Haven and St. Raphael Hospital, both in New Haven, signed a deal to become a single entity, and Waterbury Hospital announced plans in November to merge with Nashville-based Vanguard Health Systems Inc.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at