Officials at Northwestern Memorial HealthCare in Chicago and Cadence Health, the parent of Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield and Delnor Hospital in Geneva, announced Thursday they are in merger discussions, which could lead to the formation of one of the largest hospital systems in the region.
Cadence, formed in March 2011 as a result of the merger between Central DuPage and Delnor, has signed a letter of intent with Northwestern to enter a "period of exclusive discussions" that could lead to a merger, according to a news release.
"A merger of our health systems would combine Cadence Health's strong portfolio of primary and specialty care with our strength as one of the nation's leading academic medical centers, to create a pre-eminent integrated academic health system that benefits all residents, regardless of their ability to pay, by giving them increased access to physicians, clinical trials and Northwestern University research programs as well as integrated primary, secondary and advanced tertiary services," said Northwestern President and CEO Dean Harrison in the news release.
Harrison would lead the combined health system, which would operate under the Northwestern name. Cadence President and CEO Mike Vivoda would become the regional president for the combined system, and he would still be responsible for oversight of Cadence's existing footprint in the western suburbs, according to Cadence spokesman Chris King.
King said governance of the new system would include 50/50 representation from both Northwestern and Cadence's existing boards of trustees.
A potential merger is still months away, King said, and it is subject to approvals by state and federal regulators and the boards of both hospital systems.
The signing of the letter of intent allows officials from both sides to enter into formal discussions about what a potential merger would look like, King said.
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent company of the 201-bed Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest and the 894-bed Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. There's 900 faculty physicians of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine represented in the system.
At Cadence, there's more than 1,400 physicians on staff at the 333-bed Central DuPage Hospital and 159-bed Delnor Hospital. The Cadence Physician Group includes another 289 primary care doctors and specialists with offices throughout the suburbs.
"We believe this merger will create a multi-regional health system focused on the singular vision of providing high quality care with an unwavering patient focus," Vivoda said in the news release.
In response to a question about potential efficiencies that could lead to job losses in the new system, King said both organizations were committed to "our foundation as a growing health system."
"We believe we'll need more talent in the future, not less," King said.
The merger talks come just two months after merger discussions fell through between Cadence and the Rockford Health System. Both sides decided in January to discontinue negotiations after just two months because they couldn't agree on the same strategic vision, officials said at the time.