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Henry Ford Health, Ascension Michigan plan to form $10.5B system


Several Ascension hospitals will be combining with Henry Ford in a joint venture. The combined organization would operate more than 500 sites of care.

Robert Riney, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health, would lead the merged organization. (Photo: Henry Ford Health)

Robert Riney, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health, would lead the merged organization. (Photo: Henry Ford Health)

Henry Ford Health and Ascension Michigan say they have signed an agreement to enter a joint venture and form a new system with a combined $10.5 billion in revenue.

Several Ascension hospitals in southeast Michigan will be joining with Henry Ford, which is based in Detroit. The systems say it is not a merger or acquisition. No cash transactions would be taking place, the systems said.

The new, expanded organization would be branded Henry Ford Health, and it will remain headquartered in Detroit. Henry Ford and Ascension Michigan say they hope the transaction will be complete by the summer of 2024, if regulators give their approval.

The new organization would have more than 50,000 employees and more than 550 healthcare locations.

Robert Riney, president and CEO of Henry Ford, would lead the new, combined organization. A governing board of the new organization would include members from Henry Ford and Ascension, the systems said.

The organizations said they would work to maintain the Catholic identity of the Ascension hospitals. “Conversations on the future state of the Catholic identity of these facilities are ongoing,” the news release announcing the deal states.

Leaders of the two systems touted the potential to offer more services to disadvantaged communities.

“Together we can expand healthcare services and deliver innovations in care — from prevention and early detection through the treatment of complex conditions — to more people and communities across our state, including those who are most vulnerable,” Riney said in a statement.

“We share a deeply-rooted dedication to providing world-class healthcare that everyone deserves, regardless of geographic, demographic, or socioeconomic status.”

Carol Schmidt, senior vice president of Ascension, said the joint venture with Henry Ford Health could lead to better health outcomes. (Photo: Ascension)

Carol Schmidt, senior vice president of Ascension, said the joint venture with Henry Ford Health could lead to better health outcomes. (Photo: Ascension)

Carol Schmidt, senior vice president of Ascension, and ministry market executive for Ascension Michigan, pointed to a similar shared value and commitment. In a video touting the announcement, she said, “Together we can improve outcomes, access and equity in healthcare for all.”

“Together, we will make significant strides in improving the health of Michigan communities through unparalleled investments in critical community health initiatives, as well as contributing secure, high paying jobs and other related employment,” Schmidt said.

The partnership includes these Ascension Michigan acute care hospitals, and their affiliated care sites: Ascension Genesys Hospital; Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital, Warren and Madison Heights campuses; Ascension Providence Hospital, Novi and Southfield campuses; Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital; Ascension River District Hospital; and Ascension St. John Hospital.

The partnership also would include Ascension Brighton Center for Recovery.

Ascension Michigan’s other hospitals in the state would remain within the Ascension organization.

All of Henry Ford’s hospitals, care sites, and the Health Alliance Plan, will also be part of the new organization.

The systems said the combined organization would reduce healthcare costs while leading to better outcomes for patients. The ability to expand healthcare services and improve the coordination of care.

Patients would also have more access to services closer to where they live, Doug Apple, Ascension Michigan’s chief clinical officer, said in a statement.

“Patients across Michigan will have more access than ever to end-to-end healthcare services, from primary care through complex specialty care and procedures,” Apple said in a statement.

The systems also said the new organization would advance clinical research and provide more training opportunities for doctors and nurses.

Henry Ford also pointed to opportunities to attract more talent with the new organizations. The systems pointed to the potential to offer more avenues for employees to advance in their careers.

It’s been an eventful year for Henry Ford Health. The system announced plans for a $2.5 billion initiative that includes a major expansion of Henry Ford Hospital and a new medical research facility for Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University Health Sciences. The groundbreaking for the project is slated for 2024, officials said.

While the Henry Ford and Ascension Michigan partnership is not described as a merger, it comes at a time when more hospitals and health systems are coming together in one form or another.

Hospital mergers and acquisitions have been taking place with more frequency than in previous years. Through the first three quarters of the year, there have been 53 announced transactions, which matches the total of deals in all of 2022, according to data from Kaufman Hall, a healthcare consulting firm.

Analysts expect more hospitals and health systems to explore partnerships, either for strategic opportunities, expanding services in areas where a system is less competitive, or out of financial necessity.

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