Ressurection Health Care, the parent of St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, has announced plans to merge with Mokena-based Provena Health.

The merger will create what the two hospital groups say will be the largest Catholic health provider in the state.

The merger decision comes after several months of exploratory talks between the Sponsoring Congregations and Boards of both Provena and Resurrection, as well as formal due diligence.

“Together we see a bolder vision,” Sandra Bruce, president and CEO of Resurrection Health Care, said in a statement, saying it merged organization will be committeed to expanding high quality care offered “with compassion, dignity and respect at every stage of life.”

The parties have filed a Certificate of Need application with the Illinois Health Facilities Services Review Board, and the merger now awaits state approval.

Guy R. Wiebking, President and CEO of Provena Health, said, “The more we talked, the more we realized that through collaboration and equal partnership, we take a giant step toward achieving a long-common goal of ensuring for the future access to a vibrant Catholic health system which will enhance our abilities to meet the needs of the communities we are privileged to serve.”

The new system encompasses 12 hospitals — six owned by each existing organization — as well as 28 long-term care and senior residential facilities, more than 50 primary and specialty care clinics and six home health agencies.

There was no immediate word on what impact the merger might have on staffing at the two groups’ existing facilities, including St. Francis.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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