Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is on a deal-making binge. The Chicago health system is in talks to affiliate with Centegra Health System in northwest suburban Crystal Lake, Ill.
Centegra, a two-hospital system with a third set to open in August, would be the fourth such deal for Northwestern in roughly two years. A merger would create a nine-hospital system (10 when Centegra's hospital in Huntley opens this summer) stretching from 70 miles west of the loop, north to McHenry near the Wisconsin border.
“This is the right time to join an organization that values the ways we provide advanced medical care in our community,” Michael Eesley, CEO at Crystal Lake-based Centegra, said in a statement.
The systems signed a letter of intent and plans to explore an affiliation over the next several months.
"Centegra Health System shares a similar vision as Northwestern Medicine with a commitment to providing patients with high-quality, compassionate care," Dean Harrison, president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, said in the statement. "As a member of Northwestern Medicine, Centegra Health System would be part of an integrated academic health system that is transforming the future of health care and becoming one of the nation's premier destinations for patient care."
In 2015, Eesley acknowledged he would need more than shiny equipment to compete with new health care facilities going up in the far northwestern suburbs, not to mention rivals merging around him. Centegra, which has hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock, has 4,000 employees and more than 200 physicians and other health care providers.
Centegra had $434.0 million in 2014 revenue, according to its most recent annual financial statement. Northwestern, by comparison, is much bigger, with $3.89 billion in 2015 revenue. It's one of the largest, most affluent health systems in the Chicago area.
Northwestern has been adding community hospitals to its system and expanding its footprint out to the suburbs at a rapid pace. It's fending off rivals like Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in the state with hospitals that also are major rivals to Centegra.
Since 2014, Northwestern has added Cadence Health and KishHealth, both in the western suburbs. Wheaton-based Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and affiliates were the most recent addition.