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Missouri hospital finalizes deal to merge with Kansas health system


Liberty Hospital has agreed to join the University of Kansas Health System. Missouri officials had initially voiced concerns.

The University of Kansas Health System and Liberty Hospital have finalized an agreement to come together.

Image credit: University of Kansas Health System

The University of Kansas Health System has reached an agreement to acquire Liberty Hospital, based in Liberty, Missouri. The merger is expected to be complete in July.

The organizations announced this week that they have brokered definitive agreements for Liberty Hospital to join the University of Kansas Health System. The health system says the merger is expected to be completed by July 1.

Bob Page, president and CEO of The University of Kansas Health System, said the deal will expand healthcare opportunities for patients in the region.

“We are excited to have the leaders, physicians, nurses, other care providers and employees of Liberty Hospital join our health system and look forward to serving even more people in our region and beyond,” Page said in a statement.

The hospital is based in Liberty, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City, and the organization also operates 15 primary and specialty care clinics.

Raghu Adiga, MD, president and CEO of Liberty Hospital, said the “historic” agreement helps preserve the hospital’s ability to serve patients in the region.

“This partnership will ensure the future of Liberty Hospital and our ability to meet the growing healthcare needs of people in the Northland and northwest Missouri,” Adiga said in a statement.

The health system and Liberty Hospital touted big advantages for patients and said the merger had strong support. However, some Missouri officials had raised concerns about the merger of the hospital with a health system outside the state.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey had said earlier this year that Missouri lawmakers would have to sign off on the merger. Both the health system and Liberty Hospitals said they disagreed with the attorney general’s assessment and said they were moving ahead with the deal.

Some lawmakers also raised concerns about the deal and discussed legislation to block the merger. Dennis Carter, president of Liberty Hospital’s board, urged lawmakers not to kill the day, the Missouri Independent reported. Carter warned that if the deal was scuttled, he feared a for-profit system would end up acquiring Liberty Hospital and cutting vital services, including labor and delivery.

In a statement after the announcement of the deal, Carter said he was “excited about the hospital's future as part of The University of Kansas Health System.”

"We appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from providers, employees and the Northland for this partnership, which will ensure people receive the highest quality care close to home,” Carter said in a statement.

The University of Kansas Health System has pledged to retain all Liberty Hospital employees. The health system also said it would invest in Liberty Hospital’s facilities and technology, and the system plans to extend specialized care in the Liberty Hospital. The health system also expected the merger would boost efforts to recruit and retain doctors and other healthcare providers.

The health system said its branding would include “Liberty Hospital” and the Liberty name would remain on its facilities.

Liberty Hospital said a year ago that it was looking for a potential partner, and the hospital said it examined more than 30 potential partners. Ultimately, Liberty’s board selected the University of Kansas Health System.

Tammy Peterman, president of the University of Kansas Health System’s Kansas City Division, said 35% of the system’s patients come from Missouri.

“As Liberty and the Northland continue to grow, it is important patients can get the necessary care close to home,” Peterman said.

Missouri has already seen a big healthcare merger in recent months.

On Jan. 1, BJC HealthCare and Saint Luke’s Health System completed their merger, forming the BJC Health System. The integrated academic health system boasts $10 billion in revenue and operates 24 hospitals and more than 250 clinics. BJC is based in St. Louis, and Saint Luke's is based in Kansas City.

More hospital mergers have been happening in recent months, and analysts expect to see more deals taking place in 2024. Analysts say some smaller hospitals that are facing more financial pressures are likely to pursue mergers with bigger partners.

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