Intermountain Healthcare, SCL Health to merge, creating $14B system

Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare and Colorado-based SCL Health have announced plans to merge, which will create a roughly $14 billion system spanning six states.

If the deal goes through, the combined health system will operate 33 hospitals and 385 clinics, and employ 58,000 people. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, the merged organization will not only have a presence in Utah and Colorado but also in Idaho, Nevada, Montana and Kansas. The new entity will retain the nonprofit status of its founding systems.

Dr. Marc Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain, will serve at the helm of the merged system, while Lydia Jumonville, president and CEO of SCL Health, will remain in her current role during the proposed two-year integration and serve as a member of the newly integrated board.

“American healthcare needs to accelerate the evolution toward population health and value, and this merger will swiftly advance that cause across a broader geography,” said Harrison in a news release.

SCL Health will be brought under the Intermountain brand. Intermountain is much larger than SCL, with 25 hospitals versus the latter’s eight.

But both entities earned billions in revenue last year despite the uncertainties brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Intermountain reporting $7.7 billion and SCL reporting approximately $2.9 billion in revenue.

An interesting feature of the merger is that it will bring together a faith-based organization, SCL, and a secular entity, Intermountain, which raises questions around whether the former will give up its Catholic identity.

But SCL’s seven Catholic hospitals will retain their “distinctive” Catholic names and continue to operate in accordance with their current faith-based practices, Jumonville said in a virtual press conference on Thursday.

“Intermountain has embraced us continuing to maintain our Catholicity,” she said. “All of the Catholic hospitals will remain Catholic…SCL will remain Catholic.”

The definitive agreement between the two organizations is slated to be finalized and signed by the end of 2021. The merger is expected to close in early 2022, pending all approvals.

This is the second merger Intermountain has attempted in the past year. Last October, it announced plans to merge with South Dakota-based Sanford Health. But merger talks came to a halt in December soon after Sanford Health’s former President and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft left the role.

Photo: mikdam, Getty Images