Less than three years after it was formed, Cadence Health is preparing to expand.
Created in March 2011 by merging Central DuPage Health System in Winfield and Delnor Community Health System in Geneva, Cadence on Wednesday announced plans to add Rockford Health System to its organization.
The move was in the works for months after Rockford Health System officials made it clear they wanted to explore possible combinations with other health organizations.
Rockford Health is the largest and most comprehensive health system serving northwestern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, with nearly 1 million patients annually. Cadence Health delivers service to more than 1.1 million patients in the Western suburbs.
The partnership will maintain the Cadence name with Mike Vivoda remaining as president and chief executive officer. Rockford CEO Gary Kaatz will continue to lead the Rockford region.
"Together we can build a leading multi-regional health system that meaningfully improves access to care, elevates quality and lowers cost to deliver the best care and value to the communities we serve," Vivoda said. "Especially in this day and age, there is a focus on care delivery. We feel we are better positioned to deliver on that promise than doing it independently."
RHS and Cadence will work during the next several months to define the potential partnership, which remains subject to regulatory review and approval. Vivoda characterized it as an asset merger with a single board of directors, rather than a joint venture.
With slightly more than 11,000 employees and close to 1,400 physicians, the expanded Cadence Health would offer access to care in more than 40 locations, including Central DuPage Hospital, Delnor Hospital, Rockford Memorial Hospital and Van Matre HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital with combined revenues close to $1.5 billion.
Kaatz said finding a partner to grow and innovate with "is a necessity" in adjusting to the new business model in health care.
"In Cadence we believe we found someone very compatible to us," Kaatz said. "We admire their passion to clinical outcomes and believe they fit nicely with our strengths. Going forward with a much larger footprint we can be a little more nimble and we will have the cash to invest in our strategic thinking."
RHS currently is comprised of the 396-bed Rockford Memorial with a staff of more than 440 physicians, the Rockford Health Physicians group with 168 physicians in 34 specialties, and VanMatre HealthSouth, a 55-bed free-standing rehabilitation hospital.
Vivoda said there would be no negative impact on patient access.
"This provides an opportunity for enhanced access through a larger geographical area," Kaatz said, "and it provides a nice platform to which we can add additional subspecialty clinical surfaces that otherwise would not be provided."
No discussions on staffing have been held.
"I'd like to emphasize this is a combination poised for growth," Vivoda said. "We will be in need for greater and greater talent. Clearly part of this combination is to find ways for efficiency and we have a commitment to saving money."
The deal comes as the health care overhaul is being implemented, triggering a wave of consolidation of hospitals and doctor practices across the country.
Earlier this year, Edward Hospital and Health Services in Naperville and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare merged, creating a new system of 7,700 employees -- 1,680 of them physicians.