The parent organization of Ministry Health Care, which has 15 hospitals in Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, including several in the Northwoods, has signed a memorandum of understanding that could lead to the health system becoming a regional ministry of Ascension Health Alliance, the country’s largest Catholic health system.
Marian Health System, parent of Ministry Health Care, said the memorandum of understanding also includes Via Christi Health in Wichita, Kan., and St. John Health System in Tulsa, Okla. All three systems are sponsored by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. Ascension is the parent of Columbia St. Mary’s Health System.
“A relationship with Ascension Health brings many benefits to Ministry, including greater access to capital, economies of scale and best practices, a connection to an innovative organization recognized for high level performance with a commitment to growing and diversifying and the backing of a strong, national health care system,” Nick Desien, president and chief executive officer of Ministry Health Care, said in a statement.
Geoffrey Huys, Ministry Health Care’s System Director of Public Relations, said that the company is not referring to the potential agreement as a “merger” or a “buy-out”, but rather a “joining” that will enable Ministry Health Care to continue to grow in the Midwest.
“A few months ago, the parent company of Ministry Health Care, Marian Health System, came to the conclusion that they wanted to see Catholic-based health care grow in these current health care conditions,” said Huys. “They approached Ascension to guage their interest in joining forces, and were met with a positive response. Being a part of Ascension would only add to Ministry’s strength and stability in Wisconsin. We’re viewing this as a big positive. Everyone is excited, and is hoping an agreement can be reached.”
According to Huys, should the relationship move forward, patients will see very little, if any, difference in how the facilities are operated.
“No, we don’t anticipate there being any name changes or rebranding efforts,” he said. “Ascension’s track record in these types of situations indicates that they typically allow their partners to continue operating as they always have. Ministry is the largest Catholic health organization in the state, and this would only make the organization stronger.”
Ministry Health Care has more than $2.2 billion in annual operating revenue and employs 12,000 people. Its hospitals are in Appleton, Chilton, Eagle River, Marshfield, Merrill, Oshkosh, Park Falls, Rhinelander, Stanley, Stevens Point, Sturgeon Bay, Tomahawk, Weston and Woodruff in Wisconsin and Wabasha, Minn.