RACINE COUNTY — Aurora Health Care and Advocate Health Care announced on Monday their plans to merge to create Advocate Aurora Health, the 10th-largest nonprofit, integrated health care system in the United States, serving nearly 3 million patients each year.

Both the Advocate and Aurora boards of directors approved the plan, announcing the decision to physicians, nurses, associates and caregivers in both organizations on Monday. The merger will build on the 20-year relationship the two health systems have had through the joint ownership and operation of ACL Laboratories.

In Racine County and the Walworth County portion of the City of Burlington, Aurora operates:

Aurora Health Center, 5333 Douglas Ave., Caledonia.

Aurora Advanced Healthcare, 1151 Warwick Way, Mount Pleasant.

Orthopedics Aurora Healthcare, 7300 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant.

Aurora Health Center, 8400 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant.

Aurora Health Center, 4320 67th Drive, Union Grove.

Aurora Pharmacy, 4310 67th Drive, Union Grove.

Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington.

Aurora Health Care, 248 McHenry St., Burlington.

Aurora Southern Lakes Health Center, 709 Spring Valley Road, Burlington.

Aurora Wellness Center, 300 McCanna Parkway, Burlington.

Aurora Advanced Healthcare, 116 N. Dodge St., Burlington.

Aurora Behavioral Health Center, 190 Gardner Ave, Burlington.

Aurora Health Center, 818 Forrest Lane, Waterford.

A stand-alone pharmacy at 210 S. Pine St., Burlington.

Reasons for merger

The new organization will operate 27 hospitals, more than 500 sites of care, employ more than 3,300 physicians and nearly 70,000 associates and caregivers. With combined annual revenues of approximately $11 billion, Advocate Aurora Health “offers significant resources and the financial flexibility to expand investment and scale innovation,” according to the news release.

Among Advocate’s holdings are five Level I trauma centers (the highest designation in trauma care), including Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., near O’Hare International Airport.

The two organizations cited enhanced scale, expanded access, greater efficiencies and a “shared commitment to transform the care delivery model” as key drivers for the merger, according to a news release.

“For the communities in Illinois and Wisconsin that we serve and for our two organizations, this is an unprecedented opportunity to shape our future and better serve patients,” stated Dr. Nick Turkal, president and CEO of Aurora, which offers services at sites in more than 30 counties throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

“We are fortunate that our organizations are coming together from unique and complementary positions of strength, particularly at a time of evolving industry dynamics,” Turkal continued. “Working together, we will deliver on the promise of value for the people who receive, provide and pay for health care.”

Integration

“This merger is about transforming care delivery and reimagining the possibilities of health as bigger meets better and size meets value to benefit consumers,” stated Jim Skogsbergh, president and chief executive officer of Advocate, the largest health system in Illinois. “By joining forces we will be able to expand our network to scale innovation and create a destination in the Midwest for patients and the talented clinicians who care for them.”

The agreement includes a plan for a single board of directors comprised of an equal number of members from Advocate and Aurora, with Skogsbergh and Turkal serving as co-CEOs. Aurora Board Chairwoman Joanne Disch will chair the Advocate Aurora Health Board of Directors during the first year of operation, and Advocate Board Chairwoman Michele Richardson will assume leadership for the second year.

The plan also outlines a unified vision, along with plans to consolidate balance sheets. The Advocate and Aurora names will continue to be used, and each system will maintain its existing headquarters. Aurora is based in Milwaukee and Advocate in Downers Grove, Ill.

The agreement is subject to state and federal regulatory review and approval, including the Federal Trade Commission and agencies within Illinois and Wisconsin. Closing is expected by mid-year 2018.

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Reporter

Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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