- Ascension Health has signed a letter of intent to sell St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, to Hartford HealthCare.
- The deal, announced Monday, includes a 473-bed community teaching hospital, 76-bed psychiatric facility, large multispecialty provider group and St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services. It does not include St. Vincent’s College.
- Separately, Ascension has created a C-suite position to oversee health IT, Modern Healthcare reports. The as-yet-unnamed chief digital officer will start later this year.
Nonprofit Hartford is a fully integrated health system with six acute-care hospitals, a large physician group, physical therapy and rehabilitation network, regional home care system and Connecticut’s most extensive behavioral heath network.
Ascension said St. Vincent’s will continue to adhere to Catholic traditions under Hartford ownership. Completion of the sale is pending regulatory approvals.
The deal comes as Ascension is apparently shifting away from hospitals to focus more heavily on outpatient access and telemedicine. Ascension President and CEO Anthony Tersigni said in a video obtained by Modern Healthcare that the board of directors has endorsed the new strategic direction and the 151-hospital system expects to save $57 million annually through streamlining its pay practices.
The addition of a chief digital officer also aligns with the new strategy. The position can help to standardize clinical and billing data across Ascension’s hospitals and outpatient centers and ease the move to more virtual care points.
St. Louis-based Ascension saw its operating revenue drop $122.1 million in the second half of 2017, compared with the same period the prior year. The company attributed the decline to its divestiture of Saint Joseph Hospital and Door County Hospital, as well as increases in uncompensated care and operating expenses. The company also blamed uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act for a shift in patient volumes. Total admissions were off by more than 16,000 versus the 2016 numbers.
To right its financials, the hospital operator is undergoing major restructuring and has realigned leadership and organizational efforts. The nation’s largest Catholic health system recently laid off 500 workers in Michigan and more layoffs are likely ahead.
The financial struggles may be the spark for rumored merger talks between Ascension and Renton, WA-based Providence St. Joseph Health that surfaced in December.