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Evanston Hospital owner NorthShore University HealthSystem has announced plans to merge with the much larger Downers Grove-based Advocate Health Care.

The deal, announce late Thursday, would combine NorthShore’s four-hospital system that generated $1.8 billion in revenue last year with the 12-hospital Advocate system that had just under $5 billion in revenue.

The deal will create by far the largest hospital system in the state, with more than 45,000 employees and 4,438 hospital beds.

The merger requires approval by the Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, but hospital officials expressed confidence it would be approved.

The new Advocate NorthShore Health Partners system would still have less than 25 percent of the metro area’s hospital market, and industry observers anticipate it will trigger further consolidation efforts.

In 2011 Evanston’s St. Francis Hospital was part of the merger of Resurrection Health Care and Provena Health into Presence Health. That 12-hospital system had $2.7 billion in revenue last year.

The other signficant player in the Evanston health market, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, based in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, completed a merger Sept. 1 with Winfield-based Cadence Health. That new four-hospital system is expected to have at least $3 billion in annual revenue.

That’s expected to position Northwestern Memorial as the second largest health system in the region and Presence Health as the third largest — at least until other mergers occur.

The North Shore, including Evanston, is considered attractive territory for health providers because most residents have private insurance that tends to pay more than government insurance programs that are relied upon more heavily in less affluent areas.

Related stories

Advocate, NorthShore merger would create giant hospital network (Chicago Business)

Advocate Health Care and NorthShore to merge (Chicago Tribune)

Advocate, NorthShore to form 16-hospital system (Chicago Sun-Times)

Why not everyone is happy with the Advocate-NorthShore engagement (Chicago Business)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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