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Steward Health Care aims to move into Maine

For-profit healthcare chain, Steward Health Care System, is continuing to expand its reach, this time northward into Maine. On Monday, Mercy Health System of Maine, a nonprofit, Catholic system associated with the Sisters of Mercy and Catholic Health East, announced that it had signed a non-binding letter of intent with Steward, the first step in a possible acquisition.

“The Mercy Board of Directors has taken a bold and transformative step which benefits the communities of the greater Portland region now and into the future,” said Eileen Skinner, Mercy’s CEO and president in a statement announcing the deal. “Steward’s commitment to our employees, patients, medical staff, mission and vision of community-focused care made them Mercy’s first choice for partnership.”

“The decision to seek a new partner for Mercy was actively supported by Catholic Health East as part of our strategic planning process,” add Judy Persichilli, CHE’s president and CEO. “Several alternatives were explored, and we feel that Steward is the best fit to help Mercy achieve its mission goals, preserve its Catholic legacy, and continue to provide quality, cost-effective care for residents of the greater Portland area.”

Boston-based Steward was created in 2010 when private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management spent $895 million purchasing the Catholic, six-hospital Caritas Christi Health Care system. Since then, Steward has steadily purchased other health organizations in Massachusetts and is pushing into other states.

[See also: Steward bulks up with hospital acquisitions; Steward Health looks to acquire troubled Rhode Island hospital; Steward contract with doctor group continues to spark debate.]

Steward’s website says it is the largest fully-integrated community healthcare organization in New England and the third largest employer in Massachusetts with 10 community hospitals and more than 2,000 physicians.

Mercy, headquartered in Portland, Maine, has a number of facilities in the southern part of the state and is in the midst of a two-phase project to move the bulk of its services from its nearly 70-year-old Mercy Hospital campus to a newly-built Portland location in time for its 100th anniversary in 2018.

Financial details of the agreement between Mercy and Steward were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to regulatory and canonical approvals.


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