Executives of Summit Medical Center, the San Francisco Bay Area's largest independent private hospital, and Sutter Health are expected to present their respective boards with a definitive merger agreement in mid-November.
Long-running merger talks between Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter and 420-bed Summit, in Oakland, have hit several bumps in the road and have dragged out since the proposed affiliation was announced in late March.
The process stalled because of conflicts over the merger role of Sutter-affiliated Alta Bates Medical Center, one of Summit's chief competitors, and over the integration of the medical staffs. In addition, Summit is known for proceeding with extreme caution when its independence is at stake. Before entering exclusive talks with Sutter this spring, Summit had talked sporadically for several years with San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West. Eventually Summit decided to look for a partner elsewhere.
"Everything is on track," said Summit spokeswoman Nancy Happel. "We expect to have an approval (of the agreement) this month and to do a filing (for antitrust approval) with the Federal Trade Commission this year."
The boards of Summit, Sutter and Alta Bates must approve the final terms. If the merger is completed, Alta Bates, in Berkeley, would consolidate some of its operations with those of Summit.
If the deal is not derailed at the last minute, it could be formally announced as early as Nov. 17, said Carolyn Kemp, an Alta Bates spokeswoman.