SCL Health, which runs Denver’s Saint Joseph Hospital, and Utah-based Intermountain Health announced their intent to merge on Sept. 16.
When complete — perhaps early next year — the combined nonprofit system will employ more than 58,000 caregivers and operate 33 hospitals, and it will operate 385 clinics across six states, according to a statement.
Linda Jumonville, president and CEO of Broomfield-based SCL Health, and Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Health, based in Salt Lake City, said the merger wouldn’t mean layoffs or changes in available products/services.
“This merger wasn’t done with a need to cut costs,” Jumonville said. “We operate efficiently because there is no geographic overlap. I expect very little change, other than to accelerate innovative approaches faster.”
“Day to day, we’re going to work to get better with the tools we bring to bear,” Harrison said.
Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette and Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton, among other hospitals in Colorado and Montana. It is a faith-based organization affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
SCL Health will give up its corporate name and overall leadership to the larger Intermountain, but the individual Colorado hospitals such as St. Joseph and Good Samaritan will retain their names and their religious identity.
Harrison and Jumonville didn’t promise an absence of increased health care costs once the new organization is in place.
“If you go and look at our track record, objectively speaking, we provide high-quality care at low cost,” Harrison said. “The future is bright. We are getting interest from insurers.”
“We have great relations with our payers,” Jumonville added. “They believe we are committed to affordable health care. They are going to think this (the merger) is a good thing.”
SCL requires COVID vaccinations of its employees. Intermountain Health does not. Harrison said the vaccination rate was “north of 80%.”
“The public health emergency is over the thousands of people who are not vaccinated,” he said. “Intermountain complies with federal regulations. We would never leave our patients in a lurch.”
“We’re evaluating what we need to do with respect to the order of the administration” requiring vaccines of businesses with more than 100 employees, Jumonville said.
The announcement said the merged organization will create a model health system to provide high-quality, accessible, and affordable health care to more patients and communities in Colorado,
“There aren’t too many times when you can create something so special,” Jumonville said. “Our teams are so aligned. We chose to do this. This is the right thing for our health communities.”
“The pay-provider model, when done right, makes health care affordable,” Harrison said. “Together, we can do more of this.”
Jumonville said there are better ways to deliver health care.
“We need to move more into homes, more into telehealth,” she said. “We need to accelerate it.”
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