NorthShore health system signs agreement to buy Swedish Covenant Health
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Evanston-based NorthShore University Health System has agreed to buy Swedish Covenant Health by the end of the year, pending regulatory approvals, to expand community-based patient care on the North and Northwest Side, executives said.
Under the signed letter of agreement, the Swedish Covenant Hospital, 5145 N. California Ave., and its related entities will join the 127-year-old NorthShore health system and continue to operate its full-service acute care community hospital while NorthShore will expand its four-hospital network. The hospitals are located in Evanston, Skokie, Glenview and Highland Park. The health system’s research programs, personalized medicine and advanced specialty services will be available to Swedish Covenant patients, executives said.
A press release said that Swedish Covenant Health would continue to provide its health and wellness services, including access to primary care and specialists and its hospital, community outreach programs and the city’s only certified medical fitness center, the Galter Life Center, 5157 N. Francisco Ave.
“It’s a great day for our community,” Swedish Covenant Health president and chief executive officer Anthony Guaccio said in an interview. “Swedish was very thorough when it was looking at NorthShore. Swedish approached NorthShore first. And when it came time, NorthShore graciously accepted.” Swedish has been looking at potential buyers for more than a year, including at Rush University, reports said.
“We offer a full range of services to the community and we will now be able to combine that with the great expertise that NorthShore brings to the table,” Guaccio said. “This is a huge win for our patients.”
NorthShore University Health System president and CEO J.P. Gallagher said in an interview that when Swedish approached the health system, it was already exploring expansion options while continuing to provide services to the communities it serves. NorthShore attempted to merge with Advocate Health Care several years ago but stopped its efforts after a federal judge sided with the Federal Trade Commission, which argued that the deal would hurt patients and lead to increased costs, reports said.
“A lot of this comes down to relationships and for us it was about extending that relationship and opening up new points of care. And Swedish came to us and we saw a great opportunity (to become partners,)” Gallagher said.
“In today’s environment, we have an opportunity to transform how we deliver care through creative partnerships to develop the best care practices and support-long term growth. Partnering with Swedish Covenant will allow us to build on our respective exemplary physician networks and expand primary, immediate care and specialty care across our communities.” Gallagher said that if regulatory approval is completed, the five-hospital system would have about 13,000 employees and serve thousands of patients.
The two executives did not disclose the value of the deal, except to say, “a multi-million dollar deal, is a fair and conservative way to put it.”
NorthShore plans to make a “significant” contribution to the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation, which funds and operates health and wellness programs including violence prevention, housing the homeless and dental care. NorthShore also plans to give money to the Evangelical Covenant Church, Swedish Covenant’s parent organization, and assume Swedish’s pension responsibilities, the executives said.
“The much needed capital will be tremendous for our programs,” Guaccio said. “We are under the Evangelical Covenant Church and the church will go away and NorthShore will fill that role … We support the church but the grand ministry will focus more on the religious aspects now.”
Swedish Covenant Health has been serving the North and Northwest Sides of Chicago for the past 133 years and has been an important part of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, a release from the church said.
The church said that ongoing clinical nursing experiences and practicums for students at North Park University and Swedish Covenant will continue, as will the chaplaincy training program between North Park Theological Seminary and the hospital. Both North Park University and North Park Theological Seminary are ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Gallagher also said that when it comes to branding, NorthShore would like to incorporate the identity of Swedish Covenant.
“We are so excited to be a part of a local brand. Swedish has a good brand and we will work to incorporate it into our brand,” Gallagher said. “It’s still in the works.”
“Swedish will be a part of the NorthShore family, and will clearly be recognized as that but we also want to complement it as well. Identity will not be lost as we continue to move forward,” Guaccio said.