Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Joins Ascension

Ascension, the nation’s leading non-profit health system and world’s largest Catholic health system, has signed a letter of intent with the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters for the transfer of all Southeast Wisconsin operations and related corporate services of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare to Ascension Wisconsin.

Upon the expected closing of this transaction in the first quarter of 2016, Ascension Wisconsin will comprise 27 hospitals, more than 24,000 associates including 1,000 medical group physicians, 150 clinics, and $3.5 billion in annual operating revenues.

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare is one of the largest healthcare providers of care in Southeast Wisconsin, with nearly 11,000 associates including 350 medical group physicians. In Fiscal Year 2015 the system provided $139 million in charity care and other community benefits through its eight hospital campuses comprising 996 hospital beds, three long-term care facilities, and other sites of care.

Ascension Wisconsin – which is composed of Ministry Health Care based in Milwaukee and Columbia St. Mary’s in Milwaukee – would expand to include Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare including All Saints in Racine, Elmbrook Memorial Campus in Brookfield, St. Joseph and St. Francis in Milwaukee; Wisconsin Heart Hospital and  Midwest Spine and Orthopedic Hospital in Wauwatosa; Franklin Hospital and Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, a joint venture, in Franklin; Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group, outpatient centers, three transitional and extended care facilities, Home Health, and Hospice. 

“Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Ascension share the same Mission – caring for all persons, especially those who are struggling the most,” said Robert J. Henkel, FACHE, Executive Vice President, Ascension, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Health. “We share the same approach to serving our communities – providing compassionate, personalized care to all throughout their life.” Ascension Health is the healthcare delivery subsidiary of Ascension.

“This decision came after a lengthy discernment process by the Sisters as we are aging and our numbers are getting smaller in the United States. We wanted to transfer our corporate ministries while these ministries are healthy, fiscally sound, and have a strong sense of mission and values,” said Sister Pat Norton, Chair of the Sponsor Member Board for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. “The choice to transfer our ministries ensures that the needs of the times will continue to be addressed in each community, as the Sisters have worked to do for more than 140 years,” she added. 

“Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare has a long history of delivering high-quality and compassionate care in Southeast Wisconsin through our dedicated physicians and associates,” said John Oliverio, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. “We look forward to our continued discussions with Ascension and the opportunity to be part of an organization that shares our strong commitment to our local communities. We anticipate reaching a definitive agreement and completing the transfer in early 2016.”

“I’ve known John Oliverio for many years, and he is a tremendous, spirit-filled servant leader,” said Anthony R. Tersigni, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension. “Under his steady guidance, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare has become an important part of the Catholic healthcare ministry in the United States.”

“We believe the addition of associates, physicians, caregivers and volunteers from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare will allow them to benefit from the scale and expertise of Ascension, while also contributing their expertise to help us lead the transformation of healthcare as we serve individuals in our communities,” said Nick Desien, Senior Vice President, Ascension Health/Wisconsin Ministry Market Executive.

The transition in Southeast Wisconsin is planned to occur in coordination with the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters’ transfer of their other health care and housing ministries in Iowa, Illinois, and Colorado.

Further details will not be communicated until the transaction has been closed.

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