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Michigan health system, physician group announce merger

Two Michigan-based healthcare providers have announced a merger to create one of the largest integrated networks of hospitals and physician practices in the state.

The Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, a seven-hospital network covering six counties in southeast Michigan and one of the state’s largest networks, announced the merger on Oct. 5 with IHA, a physician group practice employing more than 150 doctors and 40 nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives in 32 practices in 47 locations. The merger, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will integrate IHA into the SJMHS network as the physician enterprise for Washtenaw, Livingston and parts of Wayne and Oakland counties.

Both organizations are based in Ann Arbor. IHA, with an estimated 950 professionals, provides care for more than 250,000 patients. SJMHS – part of Michigan’s non-profit Trinity Health network – is licensed for 1,726 beds and includes five outpatient health centers, five urgent care facilities and more than 25 specialty centers.

“Our merger with IHA will create an integrated organization that will proactively advance clinical integration, patient-centered care and community health. It will provide the framework and structure to increase the role of physicians in SJMHS leadership and operations,” said Rob Casalou, president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Livingston and Saline. “The merger will enable us to better prepare for rapid changes in healthcare delivery and financing stimulated by national health reform and lead to better coordinated care for our patients.”

“Hospitals and physicians together are facing future expectations for rapid improvements in quality of care and value as accountable health networks that would be difficult to achieve independently,” added Mary Durfee, MD, IHA’s president and quality medical director. “This alignment will create a fully integrated health system able to deliver superior quality of care that is coordinated and safe.”

“By combining strengths, IHA and SJMHS will be able to advance the development of a delivery system that is responsive to the needs of patients and communities and the requirements for value expressed by health care purchasers,” added Garry C. Faja, president and CEO of the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

SJMHS, through Trinity Health, is also joining IHA in pursuing affiliations and joint ventures with the University of Michigan Health System. On Sept. 22, Trinity Health, UMHS and Metro Health announced the launch of a business-to-business support-services network designed to link independent community hospitals and physician practices.

“We view the university as our primary academic health system partner. We hope to collaborate on a full range of services and programs, such as pediatrics and medical education and the improvement of patient-centered primary and specialty care services,” said Mike Slubowski, Trinity Health’s president of health networks.

Novi-based Trinity Health, one of the state’s largest employers, is comprised of 14 hospitals, nine nursing homes, 19 senior housing facilities, eight home healthcare agencies and four hospices serving 35 counties. It is part of the national Trinity Health Catholic healthcare system, which encompasses 46 acute-care hospitals, 379 outpatient facilities, 33 long-term care facilities and other resources in seven states.

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