The decision to merge Wauwatosa-based Froedtert Health
and Neenah-based ThedaCare
wasn’t born out of necessity, said Cathy Jacobson
, Froedtert’s president and chief executive officer. It simply made sense due to both organizations’ shared values and goal of transforming health care services through increased innovation and more evenly distributed resources across the state.
The news of Froedtert and ThedaCare’s intent to merge was unveiled Tuesday morning
and leadership from both health care systems, as well as the Medical College of Wisconsin, was on hand to explain what happens next. Froedtert and ThedaCare already have an existing partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin through two recently created health campuses.
“It just elevates everything to a different level. To be able to bring that (level of service) not only to our urban and suburban communities, but to our rural communities as well, that’s the real magic here in my mind,” said Dr. Imran Andrabi,
ThedaCare president and CEO.
In October 2022, when Froedtert and ThedaCare announced the creation of hospitals in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac with the help of the Medical College of Wisconsin, many wondered if a merger was imminent. At that time, Jacobson said no. Since then, Froedtert and ThedaCare have had time to strengthen their relationship.
“I would say we got to know each other even better as it went along. These are two organizations that knew how great we were from the outside and as we got to work together, we found out just how easy it was to come together and create those partnerships and how aligned we really were,” said Jacobson. “It became a natural next step where we just continued on.”
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Froedtert and ThedaCare leadership at Tuesday's press conference.[/caption]
It has not yet been decided where the company’s corporate headquarters will be, only that it will remain in Wisconsin. The combined organization will have a network of more than 3,900 providers. A new organization name has not been selected, but leadership from both systems agree both names need to live on to honor their reputations.
Andrabi said the merger could lead to new ways to provide health care access in rural communities, including increased access to telehealth options. He predicts more medical innovation and research will also be spurred through the merger. The partnership will allow both organizations to address the uneven distribution of doctors across the state, particularly in more rural areas.
“I would say patients in our communities are driving change. Patients need to be cared for when they want, how they want, with the best physician and staff. Communities want their health to be improved. So, to me, it’s what the people need,” said Jackie Fredrick
, chair of the Froedtert Health Board of Directors.
Over the next several months, Froedtert Health and ThedaCare will work toward refining the details of a definitive agreement, which will further outline the commitments of the combined health system. Pending completion of due diligence, negotiation of definitive agreements with customary pre-closing conditions, further board approvals and regulatory approval of the transaction, the goal is to launch the combined health system by the end of this calendar year.
Jacobson said both organizations must respect the regulatory approval process. She believes the fact that Froedtert and ThedaCare do not have much overlap will make things move more smoothly.
“The beauty of our partnership is we are not overlapping today so this really is an opportunity for us to expand and treat more people in Wisconsin,” said Jacobson. “I think what we’re creating here, and what you hear about the messages on what we want to do about creating value, about improving and enhancing the really strong legacies of excellence that we already share, about innovation and the need to transform health care, about expanding academic medicine, and continuing that deep community commitment…we believe it’s different than what you’re hearing from other (health system) affiliations that are going on.”