St. Luke’s Duluth and Aspirus Health, based in Wausau, Wis., have signed a letter of intent for St. Luke’s to affiliate with Aspirus Health to create a comprehensive healthcare system serving residents of northeastern Minnesota, northern and central Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Aspirus currently has four hospitals in Michigan and 13 hospitals in Wisconsin, 75 clinics, home health and hospice care, pharmacies, critical care and air-medical transport, medical goods, nursing homes and a broad network of physicians.
St. Luke’s serves residents of northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin, and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The system includes two hospitals, more than 40 clinics, home health and hospice care, pharmacies, critical care, medical goods, and two ambulatory surgery centers. St. Luke’s employs over 3,000 employees, including nearly 300 physicians and advanced practice clinicians.
The combined organization will operate 19 hospitals and 130 outpatient locations, with nearly 14,000 employees, including 1,300 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians. The system headquarters will be in Wausau, and maintain a corporate office in Duluth. St. Luke’s will remain a major care delivery hub for the region.
Aspirus Health and St. Luke’s hope to complete the affiliation process in early 2024, following due diligence, regulatory reviews and necessary approvals.
“We envision a future where access to excellent healthcare is easier and more seamless for patients. Aspirus has a history of being nimble, innovative and forward-thinking in how we deliver care for the communities we serve,” said Matthew Heywood, Aspirus Health President and CEO, in a statement. “We welcome the opportunity to expand into Minnesota with St. Luke’s and look forward to learning from one another and building upon our collective strengths to benefit our teams and patients.”
The nonprofit health systems said they are unified under common goals: to advance quality of care in the region, expand local and rural access to healthcare and strengthen communities. The combined organization will achieve these goals, they said, through improved access to capital, strong and unified technology platforms, increased scale and efficiencies and a health plan focused on maximizing value for patients and employers.
“From our founding days in 1881, St. Luke’s has remained patient-focused above all else. Joining forces with Aspirus Health enables us to expand access and better support clinical staff to reach even more patients,” said Nicholas Van Deelen, M.D., St. Luke’s co-president/CEO and chief medical officer, in a statement. “The like-minded missions of St. Luke’s and Aspirus are rooted in serving people — our patients and the people who care for our patients. It is with people in mind that we make this bold move to grow in a way that maintains our exceptional quality and patient experience.”
“We are excited by this opportunity to grow and innovate with such a complementary health system, and we look forward to a bright future for the health of our region,” said Van Deelen.