Advocate Aurora Health to join southern health care system to create 67-hospital network

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington is shown in this December 2017 file photo.

Advocate Aurora Health announced Wednesday it will combine with North Carolina-based Atrium Health creating a massive network with 67 hospitals.

The union, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to create 20,000 new jobs, officials said.

Aurora Advocate Health serves Illinois and Wisconsin, while Atrium Health operates in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.

“We’ve long admired Atrium Health’s nationally recognized clinical excellence and commitment to health equity,” Advocate Aurora Health’s board chairwoman, Michele Richardson, said in a statement.

When finalized, the health system will have a footprint that would serve more than 18 million community members through its 67 hospitals and more than 1,000 sites of care. Revenues of the combined health system are estimated to reach $27 billion.

“Together, we can do more, be better and go faster,” Jim Skogsbergh, president and chief executive officer for Advocate Aurora Health, said in a news release about the merger. “This combination harnesses our complementary strengths and expertise of our doctors, nurses and teammates to lead health care’s transformation for those we are so proud to serve.”

The new system will employ 7,600 physicians, including 2,600 providers that offer significant virtual and in-person care. It will employ more than 150,000 people and serve as one of the nation’s 10 largest graduate medical education programs. Wake Forest University School of Medicine, which has had a partnership with Atrium Health, will serve as the academic core for the new health system.

“This strategic combination will enable us to deepen our commitments to health equity, create more jobs and opportunities for our teammates and communities, launch new game-changing innovations and so much more,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and chief executive officer of Atrium Health. “Together, we will manifest a new future that significantly elevates the care we provide to every hand we hold and every life we touch.”

Advocate Aurora Health operates 27 hospitals in Wisconsin and Illinois, including Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Sherman Hospital in Elgin and Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. Advocate Aurora Health has been recognized as one of the top 12 not-for-profit health care systems in the country, according to its website.

“Advocate Aurora Health has a well-earned reputation as a national leader in diversity, equity and inclusion as well as its value-based approach to care that has led to better outcomes and more affordable health care,” said Edward J. Brown II, chairman of Atrium Health’s board of directors.

The proposed merger also will partner with Wake Forest University School of Medicine as the system’s academic core. The merged system will take on a new name as Advocate Health but retain the Advocate Aurora and Atrium Health brands in the respective local markets. The new system will be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, but maintain a strong presence in Chicago and Milwaukee, according to the news release.

The boards of both health care systems have approved the merger.

Alicia Fabbre Daily Herald Media Group

Alicia Fabbre is a local journalist who contributes to the Daily Herald