Four Chicago-area Roman Catholic hospitals announced last week they intend to merge.
Columbus-Cabrini Health System, which includes three Catholic Hospitals in Chicago, signed a letter of intent to merge with St. Joseph Hospital and Health Care Center in Chicago. All are involved in an 11-hospital network the Catholic Health Alliance of Metropolitan Chicago is attempting to develop.
Executives said the merger sends a signal that at least four of the 11 appear to be committed to the network. Other Chicago Catholic hospitals haven't been able to get together and have been looking at other non-Catholic networks.
For example, executives at nondenominational University of Chicago Hospitals confirmed they are negotiating with a Catholic facility, Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers, Evergreen Park, Ill. Little Company and St. Francis Medical Center, Blue Island, Ill., had been working on an affiliation, but U of C appears to have the upper hand.
The University of Chicago already has an affiliation agreement in the works with Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, although Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has yet to give his approval. He has encouraged Catholic hospitals to favor the Catholic Health Alliance of Metropolitan Chicago network.
Another religious-owned system, EHS Health Care, a system of six Chicago-area hospitals, also said recently it is merging with 325-bed South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill.