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Florida hospital system completes merger

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University of Florida Health has brought Flagler Health+ into the academic system. It will now be known as UF Health St. Johns.

Months after reaching an agreement to come together, University of Florida Health officials say that Flagler Health+ is now part of the organization.

The regional health provider will now be known as UF Health St. Johns, officials said this week.

David Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida and the president of UF Health, said in a video message that the system is excited to integrate the provider formerly known as Flagler.

“Throughout this process of coming together, it's become very clear just how impactful this partnership can be for the community,” Nelson said. “Flagler Health has earned the trust of the people in the region through its legacy of supporting area residents as one of the premier organizations meeting their healthcare needs.”

UF Health announced the final agreement this week and said the deal was completed Sept. 1. UF Health and Flagler agreed to come together in May.

Nelson touted UF Health’s ability to bring additional resources to St. Johns in northeastern Florida, one of the fastest growing regions in the state.

He said that will include additional capital for necessary investments in facilities and infrastructure, but much more.

“These are not just financial resources, but human resources, innovation, intellectual capital,” he said. “We will make available technologically advanced care, focused on world-class outcomes, research opportunities, including access to new clinical trials, and training programs for the next generation of care providers.”

Flagler Health includes a 335-bed hospital in St. Augustine and other sites of care. Under the agreement, the hospital will be renamed UF Health Flagler Hospital. The hospital has served the community for more than 130 years.

Flagler Health+ CEO Carlton DeVooght said joining UF Health enables patients in the St. John regions to have more access to services and advanced treatments.

“Throughout our entire selection process and then in discussions about moving forward, all of us at Flagler Health+ understood that UF Health was the right choice so that we could continue our tradition of caring for our community and our commitment to our team,” DeVooght said in a statement.

He added that the hospital’s name change reflects both the new investments coming and a long-term commitment to the community.

“UF Health recognized the importance of the Flagler name to the patients we serve,” DeVooght said.

UF Health operates 10 hospitals, including two teaching hospitals and five specialty hospitals. The system also includes 10 research centers and six health colleges, along with scores of medical practices.

More hospitals are signing off on merger agreements, or at least exploring options to consolidate, analysts say.

There were 20 announced hospital mergers and acquisitions in the second quarter of 2023, the highest number since the first quarter of 2020, according to a report from Kaufman Hall, the healthcare consulting firm. In the first half of 2023, there were 35 announced hospital mergers and acquisitions.

By comparison, there were 53 mergers in all of 2022, and 49 in 2021.

Two Wisconsin hospital systems, Froedtert Health and ThedaCare, announced last week that their boards had approved a merger agreement to form an 18-hospital system.

BJC HealthCare of St. Louis and Saint Luke’s Health System of Kansas City announced May 31 that they plan to merge and form an integrated academic health system. The two systems plan to form an organization with 28 hospitals and $10 billion in combined annual revenue.

In the spring, Kaiser Permanente announced its plans to acquire Geisinger Health, the Pennsylvania system. Kaiser is forming a new organization called Risant Health, and Geisinger will be its first member. Risant will look to acquire other hospitals in the next few years, officials say.



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