Two Illinois-based Roman Catholic healthcare systems may expand an existing hospital joint venture in Milwaukee to include all their 15 hospitals and other healthcare properties, but the systems have given themselves three years to make a final decision.
"It doesn't take three years, but that is what was comfortable for both sides," said Wilfred Loebig, president and chief executive officer of Wheaton (Ill.) Franciscan Services. "The two systems have worked closely together since 1993, and we hope that our relationship continues to grow."
Wheaton's two-year engagement is with Felician Health Care of Chicago.
Wheaton and Felician, with combined assets of some $1 billion and revenues of more than $800 million last year, have agreed to an affiliation. The agreement calls for a three-year period to decide whether to upgrade the affiliation to a merger.
"At this point it's a very loose affiliation of all of the rest of their organizations and all of our organizations," Loebig said. "We want to see if integrating the two systems would make sense."
The affiliation and possible merger builds on a joint venture the systems began in 1993 to create the four-hospital Covenant Healthcare System in Milwaukee. The Justice Department cleared that deal earlier this year.
Wheaton owns three of the four Covenant hospitals: 519-bed St. Joseph's Hospital and 168-bed St. Michael Hospital in Milwaukee, and 136-bed Elmbrook Memorial Hospital in suburban Brookfield, Wis. The fourth, owned by Felician, is 279-bed St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee.
Felician's other healthcare facilities include 276-bed St. Mary's Hospital in Centralia, Ill., and a nursing home and a retirement village, both in Manitowoc, Wis. Meanwhile, Wheaton has 13 hospitals and more than 70 healthcare and housing subsidiaries in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.
"This affiliation will enhance present and future ministry opportunities be- tween the two systems," said Sister Clarette Stryzew- ski, Felician's president and CEO. "It includes, but is not limited to, enhancing the effective use of human and financial resources of both systems," she said.
In Milwaukee, the systems merged all operations and share a common board.
"In this newly formed relationship, no assets have been transferred," Stryzewski said.