January 16, 2013

St. Francis may merge with Missouri for-profit

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, pictured above, is in talks to join a Missouri-based for profit Catholic hospital operator.

The parent of Hartford's St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center has signed a letter of intent to merge with a Missouri-based for profit hospital operator, authorities say.

If an agreement is finalized, St. Francis Care, the nonprofit care provider, will become part of St. Louis' Ascension Health Care Network, an affiliate of the largest not for profit Catholic health system in the nation, officials said Wednesday.

Terms of the letter of intent agreement aren't being disclosed.

Ascension Health Care Network and St. Francis Care will conduct due diligence and work toward the development of a definitive agreement in the coming months, officials said.

Ascension Health Care Network is the nation's first for-profit Catholic healthcare system that provides capital and expertise to Catholic and other health care facilities.

It is a joint venture between Ascension Health and Oak Hill Capital Partners, a New York private equity firm.

The deal continues the consolidation wave among hospitals and also represents a growing trend of Connecticut hospitals selling out to for-profit health care systems.

Late last year, for example, Bristol and Waterbury hospitals announced their intentions to be acquired Nashville for profit health care operator Vanguard Health Systems Inc.

St. Francis CEO and President Christopher Dadlez said the goal of the proposed merger with Ascension is to build a statewide, clinically integrated healthcare delivery system composed of high-quality providers that deliver high quality care.

"This step follows a thorough examination of how best to ensure that the people we serve in our communities continue to receive a lifetime of the very best care possible," Dadlez said.

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