The pace of health system consolidation shows no sign of letting up. On May 31, BJC HealthCare of St. Louis and Saint Luke's Health System of Kansas City signed a letter of intent to begin a merger.
The two nonprofit entities, which have approximately $10 billion in revenue combined, said they would form “an integrated, academic, Missouri-based health system capable of expanding healthcare access to high-quality patient care for more than six million residents in Missouri and beyond.”
Upon closing of the merger, the integrated health system would continue to serve BJC and Saint Luke’s distinct markets, maintain their existing brands, and operate from dual headquarters—one in St. Louis serving eastern Missouri and southern Illinois, and one in Kansas City serving western Missouri and portions of Kansas.
Currently, BJC includes 14 hospitals and multiple health service organizations. Services provided by BJC include inpatient and outpatient care, primary care, community health and wellness, workplace health, home health, community mental health, rehabilitation, long-term care, and hospice. BJC’s academic hospitals, Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, are affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine.
Saint Luke’s has more than 14 hospitals and campuses and more than 100 primary care and specialty offices, treating patients in 65 specialty services across 67 counties in Missouri and Kansas.
The integrated health system’s leadership team and board of directors would include representation from both BJC and Saint Luke’s. Richard Liekweg, president and CEO of BJC, would serve as CEO of the integrated health system, with the initial board chair of the integrated system coming from Saint Luke’s.
“Together with Saint Luke’s, we have an exciting opportunity to reinforce our commitment to providing extraordinary care to Missourians and our neighboring communities,” said Liekweg, in a statement. “Amid the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, this is the right time to build on our established relationship with Saint Luke’s. With an even stronger financial foundation, we will further invest in our teams, advance the use of technologies and data to support our providers and caregivers, and improve the health of our communities. These are opportunities that we can better achieve together. I am confident that BJC and Saint Luke’s together will be even better positioned to extend our legacy of clinical discovery and deliver medical breakthroughs well into the future.”
Saint Luke’s CEO Melinda Estes, M.D., said the integrated system would set a new national standard for medical education and research. “Through our decade-long relationship as a member of the BJC Collaborative, we’ve established mutual trust and respect, so the opportunity to come together as a single integrated system that can accelerate innovation to better serve patients is a logical next step. Together, we will advance our shared mission to continue improving the health of our patients.”
The organizations are working toward reaching a definitive agreement in the coming months. Closing, which is subject to regulatory review and the receipt of customary approvals, is expected to occur by the end of 2023.