Froedtert Health, ThedaCare announce plans to merge

Wauwatosa-based Froedtert Health and Neenah-based ThedaCare are in talks to merge into one health system.

The nonprofit hospital systems on Tuesday announced that they have signed a letter of intent “to start a process to combine our organizations into one health system to advance local health care for our patients and improve the health and well-being of our communities,” according to a news release.

Cathy Jacobson
Cathy Jacobson

“Both of our organizations have deep, long-standing ties in the communities we serve. Our Wisconsin roots have been instrumental in building creative solutions to meet our communities’ health needs,” said Cathy Jacobson, president and CEO of Froedtert Health. “By coming together with the state’s leader in regional community health, our combined organization will be poised to meaningfully address health equity and disparities, enhance access to a broader array of services and make it easier for patients to navigate the health care system. The Medical College of Wisconsin will continue to be an important partner in our work together.”

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Froedtert Health – in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin – operates Froedtert Hospital, the only academic medical center and adult Level I Trauma Center in eastern Wisconsin, located at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center on West Watertown Plank Road.

The network also includes Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital, Froedtert West Bend Hospital and Froedtert Community Hospital with locations in Mequon, New Berlin, Oak Creek and Pewaukee. With more than 45 health centers and clinics, the system employs more than 13,000 employees, including more than 2,100 physicians. Froedtert’s revenue for fiscal 2022 totaled $3.3 billion. 

ThedaCare operates eight hospitals and nearly three dozen clinics and health care centers in northeast and central Wisconsin, according to its website. The organization delivers care to more than 650,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 providers and team members. ThedaCare’s revenue for fiscal 2022 totaled $1.2 billion. 

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“ThedaCare and Froedtert Health have a commitment to the people of Wisconsin,” said Dr. Imran Andrabi, ThedaCare president and CEO. “We are alike in many ways, and our leaders and our boards have long been asking how we can accelerate our work to make a positive and lasting impact on our state. We have a shared vision for what we can do together to improve the health and well-being of the communities and be proactive partners in health. We are eager to start exploring how we can build a healthier, brighter future for Wisconsin.”

Jacobson will initially assume the role of CEO of the combined health system, and Andrabi will serve as president. Following a six-month transition period, Jacobson will retire and Andrabi will assume the role of president and CEO.

Jacobson joined Froedtert in 2010 as executive vice president of finance and strategy, chief financial officer and chief strategy officer. By 2012, she had assumed the role of president and then CEO. During her tenure, Jacobson has steered the health system through widespread consolidation in the industry, severe staffing shortages and a global pandemic.

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Andrabi took over as president and chief executive officer of Neenah-based ThedaCare in 2017. Previously, Andrabi was regional president and chief executive officer of the Toledo region for Mercy Health.

The combined organization will be governed by a parent board composed of representatives of both organizations. The initial board will have 18 members, including Jacobson and Andrabi. The initial board chair will be Jud Snyder, Froedtert Health’s current vice chair and chair-elect. The initial vice chair will be Jim Kotek, ThedaCare’s current board chair.

Froedtert and ThedaCare’s forthcoming merger builds upon an existing partnership, announced last year, under which the Froedtert health network provides advanced levels of medical care for ThedaCare patients for unique specialty services such as heart and lung transplants and treatment of advanced heart failure, with ThedaCare providing care locally before and after.

Tuesday’s announcement is the latest development in a string of consolidations among Wisconsin’s health systems.

In December, La Crosse-based Gundersen Health System and Green Bay-based Bellin Health completed a merger, followed by Milwaukee- and Chicago-based Advocate Aurora Health completing its merger with Charlotte, North Carolina-based Atrium Health. Together, those mergers will impact about 8.5 million patients across several states.

In 2018, Aurora Health Care merged with Advocate Health to create a $12 billion health system, the 10th largest in the country. 

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