• AMITA health is a joint operating company formed by Adventist Midwest Health and Ascension’s Alexian Brothers Health System in 2015.
    • It’s much more common for planned mergers between health care systems to fall apart than it is for already-established health systems, such as AMITA, to fracture, said Michael Buchanio, a senior principal at management consulting firm West Monroe in Chicago.
    • Experts speculated that perhaps the system had grown unwieldy because of its size or its leaders disagreed on key issues.

15 November 2021 | In an unusual move, the Adventist- and Catholic-based organizations behind AMITA Health, one of the largest hospital systems in Illinois, United States, have decided to go their separate ways, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune.

AdventHealth and Ascension operated together as AMITA Health, which has 19 hospitals in Illinois.

“Leaders of both sponsoring organizations have determined that going forward separately is in their collective best interest in order to more nimbly meet the changing needs and expectations of consumers in the rapidly evolving health care environment,” AMITA Health said in a news release.

AMITA did not comment further on the reasons behind the decision, but experts speculated that perhaps the system had grown unwieldy because of its size or its leaders disagreed on key issues.

Hospital systems typically merge and acquire others to increase their bargaining power with health insurers, said Anthony LoSasso, an economics professor at DePaul University. Systems with more hospitals, especially popular ones, have greater leverage to ask for higher reimbursements from insurance companies, which will want those hospitals in their networks.

The split at AMITA “is going against the grain of what we’ve been seeing over the last decade or so in Chicago and in most markets outside of Chicago,” LoSasso said.

It’s possible that AMITA grew so big so quickly that it found it difficult to respond quickly enough to changes in Chicago-area health care, he said.

Or, it’s possible that AMITA’s leaders had differences of opinions about the futures of their hospitals that they couldn’t reconcile, he said.

It’s much more common for planned mergers between health care systems to fall apart than it is for already-established health systems, such as AMITA, to fracture, said Michael Buchanio, a senior principal at management consulting firm West Monroe in Chicago.

AMITA is a joint operating company formed by Adventist Midwest Health and Ascension’s Alexian Brothers Health System in 2015.

Notably, an AMITA hospital treated the first person to transmit COVID-19 in the United States.

Ascension is a massive Catholic health system with 142 hospitals in 19 states and the District of Columbia. AdventHealth, affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has nearly 50 hospitals and hundreds of care sites in nine states.

Hospitals that were formerly part of AdventHealth include AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center Bolingbrook, AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center La Grange, AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center Hinsdale and AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks.

AdventHealth jointly operates another healthcare system with a Catholic-based organization, Catholic Health Initiatives, that serves Colorado and Western Kansas in the United States. Called Centura Health, the system operates 17 hospitals and has senior living communities, health neighborhoods, home care and hospice services, according to Centura Health’s LinkedIn profile. The partnership has been in place since 1996.

This article was edited by AToday staff.

(Photo: AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center Hinsdale, established in 1904, is one of the hospitals in AMITA Health, a healthcare system jointly operated by Adventist- and Catholic-based organizations. AMITA Health recently announced that it was splitting up. Photo via AmitaHealth.org) 

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