Chicago's healthcare networks are looking to the city's south and west suburbs to fill their geographic voids, as their relationships to the north become complete.
Northwestern Healthcare Network snagged its seventh hospital, 400-bed Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., late last month while competing Lutheran General HealthSystem and EHS Health Care prepare to complete their mega-merger.
"This is now seven hospitals, but I would be surprised if we ended up with more than 12," said Bruce Spivey, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Northwestern Healthcare Network. "We are established on the north and northwest of immediate Chicago and we are looking west, south and southwest. We want to have a presence in every area."
Through its letter of intent signed last month, Northwest joins Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Children's Memorial Hospital and Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago; Evanston (Ill.) Hospital; Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Ill; and Highland Park (Ill.) Hospital. Together, the hospitals have some 2,400 acute-care beds.
Northwestern also is nearing completion of two managed-care products, Dr. Spivey said.
"We plan to have both a Medicare risk product and a Medicaid risk product very soon," Dr. Spivey said.
Northwestern's addition of Northwest gives it more than $1.2 billion in combined revenues, about the same amount as the EHS-Lutheran General endeavor.
Meanwhile, Oak Brook, Ill.-based EHS and Park Ridge, Ill.-based Lutheran General are expected to clear an important stage in their merger efforts as early as this week.
"The due diligence process is virtually complete," said Dan Parker, executive director of public relations for Lutheran General HealthSystem.
Competitors of Lutheran General and EHS are carefully watching the proposed venture because they know it fell apart several years ago.
But executives from both systems say their goal of an operational venture by Jan. 1, 1995 remains intact. There remains only federal government approval and several levels of internal approval by the hospitals and their sponsoring religious organizations.
On the EHS side, votes within the religious-sponsored system's 117-member corporate structure will take place. Among them are approval by the United Church of Christ Churches, clergy and lay people, the medical staffs, the hospitals' auxiliaries and the alumni of the Evangelical School of Nursing.
"There will be two formal votes: one at the end of October and another in early November," said William Colwell, EHS' vice president of public relations and marketing services. "We're still shooting for the Jan. 1 target date."