A four-hospital network in Chicago's western suburbs is in the works as the hospitals step up efforts to affiliate in anticipation of healthcare reform.
With nearly 1,000 acute-care beds and more than $450 million in assets, the system formed through the collaboration would be a major force in the increasingly competitive Chicago market.
"We're not ruling out any possibilities," said Pamela Meyer, president and chief executive officer at Edward Hospital in Naperville.
The hospitals formed a task force earlier this year with representation from all four hospitals and hired KPMG Peat Marwick of Chicago as a consultant.
The three other hospitals involved are La Grange (Ill.) Memorial Hospital, Elmhurst (Ill.) Memorial Hospital and Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.
"It will come to an end of a phase in late May or early June, and then we'll decide whether there is potential to proceed," said Thomas Beckett, president and CEO at La Grange.
Executives said the four would fare well competitively because they aren't burdened with the expenses of inner-city or teaching hospitals.
"We've got less bureaucracy and overhead costs, so we can implement change quickly," Ms. Meyer said.
The suburban hospitals also may be able to tap into a coalition of 140 Chicago-area businesses that will develop a healthcare insurance product for small businesses (Jan. 24, p. 17). The East-West Corridor Association, based in DuPage County, Ill., is developing insurance products with an estimated market of 500,000 people. "That would cement a lot of business," Ms. Meyer said.
In related Chicago network activity, 488-bed Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago will discuss three potential affiliations, including whether to become a part of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s growing Chicago network.
Mercy has been courted by Columbia for several months. It's also been considering linking with the Northwestern Healthcare Network or affiliating with Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. Loyola is already part of a developing 11-hospital Roman Catholic network (Feb. 14, p. 42). Columbia owns three acute-care hospitals and three psychiatric hospitals in the Chicago area.
Mercy's board has scheduled a meeting this week to discuss the affiliation possibilities, said Judy Traynor, manager of Mercy's press relations.