Trinity sponsor merger pending

STEUBENVILLE – Sylvania Franciscan Health, one of the sponsors of Trinity Health System, and Catholic Health Initiatives have signed a non-binding letter of intent for SFH to join CHI, officials with both organizations announced this morning.

The health care systems said they have entered into formal discussions that, if successful, would bring together two systems with similar missions, values and long histories of service to the communities they serve. They hope to have an agreement in place by this fall.

CHI, based in Englewood, Colo., would become the sole sponsor of Sylvania Franciscan Health, which includes Franciscan Living Communities in Kentucky and Ohio, St. Joseph Health System in the Brazos Valley region of Texas and Trinity Health System. In the potential agreement, the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania would continue to sponsor their health and human services ministries of Bethany House, Our Lady of Grace, Rosary Care Center, the Sophia Center, and Convent Park Apartments, as well as their education ministry of Lourdes University.

“This is very good news for Trinity Health System and the local residents who seek our services,” said Fred Brower, Trinity president and chief executive officer. “CHI is one of the largest health care networks in the U.S. and this relationship will be a benefit for our area.”

SFH officials explained that the health care industry is rapidly changing and faces a new model – one in which systems are expected to offer integrated systems of care for specific geographical populations. As a result, they said in a press release, many smaller health systems are joining larger systems to expand their care within existing regions.

SFH is in a strong position, having withstood these changes and many more throughout the past years, officials added. Integrating with CHI will allow SFH to build on the strength of its health system and better support the expanding health care needs of the communities it serves, they added.

“We are excited about the possibility of joining CHI, whose culture and values are in alignment with those of our sisters. After a substantial due-diligence process to find a potential partner that shares our commitment to patients, as well as the mission of Catholic health care, we are confident CHI will enable us to continue our vision as well as the Franciscan charism that is our foundation,” said Jim Pope, Sylvania Franciscan Health CEO.

CHI and SFH will look to develop ways to build healthier communities, the organizations said.

“We are pleased that Sylvania Franciscan Health wants to be part of the CHI family. SFH’s health ministries in Ohio, Texas, and Kentucky will be strengthened through their alignment with other CHI organizations. The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania have created a strong foundation for Catholic health care, and our shared values merge to strengthen the delivery of highly reliable, quality care across the system,” said Kevin Lofton, CHI CEO,

The transfer of sponsorship will require approvals from the congregational minister and general council of the Sisters of St. Francis and the CHI board of stewardship trustees as well as federal, state and church authorities.

The Sisters of Sylvania were founded in 1916.

Catholic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit, faith-based health system, was founded in 1996. It operates in 18 states and comprises 89 hospitals, including four academic medical centers and 23 critical -access facilities; community health services organizations; accredited nursing colleges, home-health agencies and other facilities. In fiscal year 2013, CHI provided $762 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics and research.

Tri-State Health Services also is a sponsor Trinity Health System.