Presence, Amita health systems agree to merge

Presence Health, which has hospitals in Elgin, Aurora and Des Plaines, has entered into a deal to become part of Arlington Heights-based Amita Health and create the largest health system in the state.

The hospital systems have signed a “nonbinding letter of intent” for Presence Health to add its medical centers, outpatient facilities and other sites to Amita Health, the companies announced Tuesday.

Though there remain some details to work out, both companies believe the deal should be completed by the end of the year, Presence Health President and CEO Michael Englehart said.

The agreement would add Presence's hospitals, including Presence Holy Family in Des Plaines, Presence Mercy in Aurora, Presence St. Joseph in Elgin, Presence Saint Francis in Evanston and Presence St. Joseph in Joliet, to a network that already includes Alexian Brothers Health Systems and Adventist Midwest Health.

That network, St. Louis-based Ascension Healthcare, is the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world's largest Catholic health system, according to Tuesday's announcement.

Most of the Presence facilities would take on the Amita name, Englehart said. Presence has 11 hospitals, though it recently announced plans to sell its Danville and Urbana hospital to OSF HealthCare.

The Amita network already includes nine suburban hospitals and medical centers: Amita Health Adventist Medical Centers in Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Hinsdale and LaGrange; Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center, Amita Health Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital and Amita Health Alexian Brothers Women & Children's Hospital, all in Hoffman Estates; and Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center and Amita Health Alexian Brothers Rehabilitation Hospital, both in Elk Grove Village.

As faith-based, Catholic health care systems, both Presence and Amita share specific goals and philosophies that aid their coming together, Amita Health President and CEO Mark Frey said.

But changes in the health care industry as well as new opportunities to improve efficiency and lower costs were also factors in the timing of the agreement, he added.

“Without question, the market is pushing consolidation,” Frey said.

Joining together would allow for expanding services in a number of areas, Englehart said.

“Between the two health services we are the biggest provider of behavioral health, but there are still not enough in Illinois,” he said.

The deal is not expected to affect expansions already in the works, Frey said. Last month, Amita Health announced a $250 million plan to expand three of its suburban hospitals and build four new medical facilities over the next four years.

Serious conversation between the two companies that led to Tuesday's announcement began late last year, Englehart said.

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Amita Health President and CEO Mark Frey, from left, Sister Hanna Paradowska of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Sister Terry Maltby of the Sisters of Mercy, and Presence Health President and CEO Michael Englehart attend a ceremony Tuesday afternoon marking the signing of a letter of intent for Presence Health to become part of Amita Health. Courtesy of Amita Health
Arlington Heights-based Amita Health has entered into an agreement expected to lead to Presence Health facilities joining it by the end of the year. COURTESY OF Amita HEALTH
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