Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare has officially joined long-time competitor Columbia St. Mary’s, combining its operations and corporate services under the Ascension Health umbrella. Officials with the health care systems signed the deal today.
Wheaton, which operates eight hospitals in southeastern Wisconsin, announced in October it would join St. Louis-based Ascension, the largest Catholic health system in the country.
Wheaton is one of four regional health care systems that are part of Ascension Wisconsin. Milwaukee-based Columbia St. Mary’s and Ministry Health Care and Affinity Health System are also part of the Ascension network.
The merger will better align Wheaton and Columbia St. Mary’s to compete with the state’s largest health care system, Aurora Health Care, and the changing landscape of the health insurance market and the way doctors and hospitals are paid for service.
In December, a BizTimes Milwaukee cover story looked at several aspects of the merger and how patients and business owners could benefit, if executed correctly.
When Wheaton announced the merger in October 2015, the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters said they were looking for a Catholic health system that could carry on their mission.
“We are pleased to become part of Ascension Wisconsin,” John Oliverio, president and CEO of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare said in a written statement. “This relationship will support our commitment to deliver high-quality, compassionate and personalized care in the communities we serve.”
There has not yet been an announcement about Oliverio’s future or who will lead the Wisconsin market under the merged system.