BJC completes merger with Kansas City-based Saint Luke's Health System
BJC Healthcare has formally closed the deal that merges the St. Louis-based company with Saint Luke's Health System in Kansas City, officials announced Tuesday.
The $10 billion merger creates a system that comprises 28 hospitals across Kansas, Illinois and Missouri.
Saint Luke’s joined the BJC system but will still operate as Saint Luke’s in the western part of the company’s service region, which includes Kansas City and eastern Kansas.
BJC, already one of the region’s largest employers, now has 44,000 employees, representatives say. The company will continue to be known as BJC in the St. Louis region and the Metro East.
“By working together to deliver extraordinary clinical care and becoming the region’s premier destination to practice medicine, we will enhance patient care and accelerate medical breakthroughs,” BJC CEO Richard Liekweg said in a prepared statement. “Today, with our 44,000 committed, hard-working clinicians and employees, we take the first step in making that vision a reality.”
Liekweg, who has been CEO at BJC since 2018, will serve as the leader of the unified health system. The president of the eastern region, Nick Barto, will be based in St. Louis. The president of the western region, Julie Quirin, will be based in Kansas City.
Leaders of the two health systems have said the merger will result in better care for patients, since the two academic health centers will be able to pool their resources to create innovative treatments and cures and to bargain for better deals on equipment.
BJC representatives say patients likely will not notice any changes in the care they receive at the hospitals.
While health systems have long bought smaller local hospitals regionally, health economists have said cross-market mergers, which consolidate systems across geographic areas, are becoming more common. Such mergers can make the operations more competitive when bargaining with insurers for better rates, industry experts have said.
But cross-market mergers have also been shown to increase prices for patients.
Officials announced the merger in May. Federal regulators reviewed the deal to determine if the hospital consolidation created a monopoly that violated antitrust laws.
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