New chapter in Northwest Community merger talk history

  • Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights is apparently in talks to merge with another hospital system, but mum's the word on which system that would be.

    Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights is apparently in talks to merge with another hospital system, but mum's the word on which system that would be. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Updated 1/25/2013 9:43 PM

Arlington Heights-based Northwest Community Healthcare is seeking another health care partner for a possible merger or other alliance, but a representative stopped short of providing names.

The hospital board continues to talk with health care organizations to "explore the full range of relationship and alliance possibilities," said NCH spokeswoman Jacqueline Speckin.


"The board has made no decision to act and will only do so if presented with possibilities that would allow NCH to better meet the needs of our patients, doctors, employees and communities in the future," she said.

Speckin declined to name any health care organizations involved in the process. Kelly Jo Golson, a spokeswoman for one rumored suitor, Oak Brook-based Advocate Health Care, declined to comment.

Documents from the Federal Trade Commission from October 2005 showed that Evanston, Highland Park and Northwest Community hospitals had discussed a potential merger as far back as 1996. Those talks broke down in 1997 due to "personality conflicts and a lack of interest on the part of Northwest Community," an FTC document said.

In 1998, Highland Park Hospital saw Northwest Community as a potential merger partner again, the FTC document said.

In March 2010, the Daily Herald reported that NCH said it was eager to acquire other health care organizations after it had bought Riverwoods-based Affinity Healthcare. That action made the group's physicians direct employees of the hospital for the first time. Traditionally, doctors have not been employees and were instead associated with a number of hospitals, where they examine patients or do surgeries.

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Merger talk surrounding NCH comes in the wake of this week's announcement that Naperville-based Edward Hospital & Health Services and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare have agreed to merge by midyear.

Others mergers in the last couple of years include Cadence Health, formed after the merger of Delnor Health System in Geneva and Central DuPage Health System in Winfield. Provena Health and Resurrection Health Care also merged into Presence Health Care.

NCH's reorganization in September 2012 didn't mean that it was doing poorly or that it will have to merge with another health system to ensure its survival, hospital CEO Bruce Crowther told the Daily Herald in an interview at that time.

"We are pretty well confirmed at being independent for the foreseeable future," Crowther said in September. By November 2012, Crowther said he would retire by late 2013.

Merger talks are all part of the changing health care landscape, and these actions are all part of what hospitals see as their best options for their physicians and the communities they serve, said Danny Chun, spokesman for the Naperville-based Illinois Hospital Association.

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