A little more than a week after a proposed merger between Phoenix-based Samaritan Health System and HealthPartners of Southern Arizona fell through, Samaritan and Mercy Healthcare Arizona have signed a letter of intent to join forces. The deal, expected to close in the first half of 1997, will create a statewide health network with six acute-care hospitals and four specialty facilities. It will generate annual revenues of more than $1.5 billion and employ nearly 14,000 workers. The combined organization will operate as a not-for-profit, under a yet-to-be-chosen name. Samaritan brings most of the holdings into the deal. It operates four acute-care hospitals in Arizona-including the state's largest, 576-bed Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix-and one in California. It also operates several behavioral healthcare facilities. Phoenix-based Mercy operates 493-bed St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center.
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (Ky.) Health System has run into the arms of the newly formed Catholic Health Initiatives system after pulling out of a struggling Louisville, Ky.-based network that included non-Catholic hospitals. Seven-hospital Sisters of Charity said last week that it's considering joining CHI, with a final decision to be made sometime next year. Denver-based CHI was created in July through the merger of three Catholic healthcare systems with a total of 61 hospitals. Sisters of Charity backed out of the Univa Health Network in July.