Aurora Health Care to merge with Advocate Health Care

Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center at South 27th Street and West Oklahoma Avenue in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care and Advocate Health Care of Downers Grove, Illinois announced plans today to merge in a union that would create the 10th largest nonprofit health care system in the United States.

Both Aurora Health Care and Advocate Health Care are the largest health systems in their respective states. Under the merger, each system would maintain its current headquarters and continue to use its current name, according to a news release.

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center at South 27th Street and West Oklahoma Avenue in Milwaukee.

The combined system, which would operate as Advocate Aurora Health, would have annual revenues of about $11 billion and serve nearly 3 million patients annually. It would operate 27 hospitals and more than 500 sites of care, and employ more than 73,000 people.

The plan calls for a single board of directors with an equal number of members from Advocate and Aurora. Nick Turkal, who’s led Aurora since 2006, and Jim Skogsbergh, president and chief executive officer of Advocate, would serve as co-CEOs.

The two systems currently share ownership of ACL Laboratories.

“For the communities in Illinois and Wisconsin that we serve and for our two organizations, this is an unprecedented opportunity to shape our future and better serve patients,” Turkal said. “We are fortunate that our organizations are coming together from unique and complementary positions of strength, particularly at a time of evolving industry dynamics. Working together, we will deliver on the promise of value for the people who receive, provide and pay for health care.”

The boards of directors from each system approved the plan and announced the decision to employees today.

The agreement is subject to state and federal regulatory review and approval, including the Federal Trade Commission and agencies within Illinois and Wisconsin. Closing is expected by mid-year 2018.

“This merger is about transforming care delivery and reimagining the possibilities of health as bigger meets better and size meets value to benefit consumers,” Skogsbergh said. “By joining forces we will be able to expand our network to scale innovation and create a destination in the Midwest for patients and the talented clinicians who care for them.”

Under the plan, Joanne Disch, current Aurora board chair, will chair the Advocate Aurora Health board of directors during the first year of operation and Michele Richardson, who currently chairs the Advocate board, will assume leadership for the second year.

It’s the latest in a larger trend of health system mergers across the country and locally.

In 2016, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare officially joined long-time competitor Columbia St. Mary’s, combining its operations and corporate services under the Ascension Health umbrella.

Wauwaotsa-based Froedtert Health recently expanded its affiliation with Kenosha’s United Hospital System in a new agreement effective this fall, in which United Hospital System adopted the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin brand and changed its name to Froedtert South.

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