Intermountain Healthcare and SCL Health Announce Merger

Sept. 17, 2021
The merger of the 25-hospital, Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare and the eight-hospital, Broomfield Colorado-based SCL Health will create a 33-hospital system spanning six western states

On Sep. 16, senior executives at the 25-hospital, Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, and the eight-hospital, Broomfield, Colorado-based SCL Health, announced a merger of the two systems, with the new organization to use the Intermountain Healthcare name. The combined system will encompass 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, and 58,000 caregivers, across Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, and Kansas.

As the Salt Lake Tribune’s Erin Alberty wrote on Thursday evening, “Utah’s largest hospital system, Intermountain Healthcare, is planning to merge with Colorado-based, Catholic-affiliated SCL Health, leaders of the two companies announced Thursday. The two systems have “complimentary” assets and will operate health care facilities from Nevada to Kansas, Intermountain CEO Dr. Marc Harrison said in a news conference. Harrison will be president of the merged company, which will be headquartered in Salt Lake City. A regional office will occupy SCL’s headquarters in Broomfield, Colo.”

As Alberty reported, “Intermountain, with 25 hospitals and 225 clinics, is the larger of the two systems, and SCL will take on its name — though its eight hospitals and 160 clinics will retain their own names, and their Catholic ties, said Lydia Jumonville, CEO of SCL. Intermountain was created as a secular entity in 1975 when it took on health care facilities owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” “Intermountain has just embraced us continuing to maintain our Catholicity,” Alberty quoted SCL’s Jumonville as saying at the press conference. “We will follow all of the Catholic directives and [Ethical and Religious Directives], and all of the values of the Catholic hospitals will be there.”

The two health systems published a press release on Thursday evening. It read thus:

“Intermountain Healthcare and SCL Health, two leading nonprofit healthcare organizations, have signed a Letter of Intent to merge and create a model health system that provides high-quality, accessible, and affordable healthcare to more patients and communities in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, and Kansas. Upon completion of the merger, the combined system will employ more than 58,000 caregivers and operate 33 hospitals. It will run 385 clinics across six states and provide health insurance to about one million people. Intermountain and SCL Health currently provide services in adjacent areas with no geographic overlap. Intermountain Healthcare and SCL Health are committed to excellence in clinical outcomes, quality, and safety.”

"We're excited to merge with SCL Health to usher in a new frontier for the health of communities throughout the Intermountain West and beyond, “Marc Harrison, M.D., president and CEO of Intermountain, said in a statement contained in the press release. "American healthcare needs to accelerate the evolution toward population health and value, and this merger will swiftly advance that cause across a broader geography. We'll bring together the best practices of both organizations to do even more to enhance clinical excellence, transform the patient experience, and support healthy lives."

And the press release quoted Lydia Jumonville, president and CEO of SCL Health, as stating that "SCL Health and Intermountain are pursuing our merger from positions of strength. We are two individually strong health systems that are seeking to increase care quality, accessibility, and affordability. We will advance our missions and better serve the entire region together."

The press release noted that “Both leaders reiterated that it is an extremely busy time for everyone in healthcare, especially given the resurgence of COVID-19. As the merger moves forward, the organizations will continue to maintain focus on caregiver and patient well-being as a top priority.  The merged organization will serve as a model for faith-based (SCL Health) and secular (Intermountain) healthcare systems to come together to deliver high-quality and affordable care, extending their missions,” the press release stated. “The resources and expertise of the merged organization will further extend its mission-focused approach to serving patients, particularly vulnerable populations, and accelerate meeting patient and community needs.”

Further, the press release stated, “Intermountain and SCL Health are committed to excellence in clinical outcomes, quality, and safety, and both organizations have a solid operating and financial performance record. Intermountain brings a successful model of value-based care and population health expertise, a robust digital health platform, and an extensive telehealth network. SCL Health brings expertise in operating an integrated healthcare organization across multiple states, with proven success in competitive markets. The merged health system will be headquartered in Salt Lake City, with a regional office in Broomfield, Colorado,” the press release stated. “Dr. Marc Harrison of Intermountain will serve as president and CEO of the merged organization. Lydia Jumonville of SCL Health will remain in her current role during a two-year integration and serve as a board member on a new combined board to ensure the integration of the two systems. The newly integrated Board of Trustees and leadership team will be selected from both systems.”

And, the press release added, “Under the Letter of Intent, while the organization will be named Intermountain Healthcare, SCL Health's Catholic hospitals will retain their distinctive Catholic names and continue to operate according to existing practices. In addition to seven Catholic hospitals, SCL Health operates one secular hospital in Colorado. The intention is that a definitive agreement will be finalized and signed by the end of 2021. The merger of the two companies is expected to close in early 2022, pending approvals.”

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Alberty wrote, reporting from the press conference, that “The Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops prevent Catholic hospitals from providing contraceptives, performing surgeries intended to prevent or end pregnancy, or conducting in vitro fertilization. While Jumonville stressed that SCL hospitals will continue to follow Catholic directives, neither she nor Harrison indicated those directives would be adopted at Intermountain facilities. Meanwhile,” she added, “there is no plan yet as to the role SelectHealth — Intermountain’s health insurance — will play in the merger, Harrison said. The moderator of Thursday’s digital news conference did not relay a question from The Tribune as to whether or how SCL’s religious health care directives could impact coverage of family planning services, should SelectHealth plans be offered through SCL entities.”

Meanwhile, Deseret News’s Jenny Rollins wrote on Thursday that “Both organizations are nationally recognized, leading health care networks with a wide base, and the CEOs of both organizations say this was a voluntary move rather than a necessary one. They also say that the move wasn't spurred by the pandemic, though the pandemic did show how each organization navigated a crisis and that increase their respect for each other.”

Rollins also wrote that, “For Intermountain, those strengths are population health expertise, a digital health platform and an extensive telehealth network. SCL Health brings expertise in operating a health care organization across multiple states to the table. The merged organization will be based in Salt Lake City with a regional office in Broomfield, Colorado, and will retain nonprofit status,” she added. “Dr. Marc Harrison will oversee the combined organization as president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, along with an integrated executive leadership team. Jumonville will remain CEO of SCL Health and serve as a board member on the new combined board.”

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