St. Francis Hospital joining national Catholic health care system

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center and its parent company, St. Francis Care, announced plans to join Trinity Health, a national Catholic health care system that includes 86 hospitals in 21 states.

St. Francis Hospital file photo

St. Francis Hospital

As part of the definitive agreement between the companies, St. Francis Care would become part of a newly created regional network along with the Sisters of Providence Health System, which includes Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., and other facilities in Western Massachusetts.

The deal, which must still be approved by state and federal regulators, is the latest in a series of moves by Connecticut hospitals to join larger networks. Hospital officials say new payment models that emphasize managing the health of a population of patients and tightening reimbursement from government health care programs has made it more appealing to be part of larger chains, which can bring economies of scale and other advantages.

St. Francis’ announcement comes the week after another national hospital chain, Tenet Healthcare, dropped plans to acquire five Connecticut hospitals, citing regulatory requirements that the company considered unworkable.

The five hospitals that had plans to join Tenet’s network – Bristol, Manchester Memorial, Rockville General, St. Mary’s and Waterbury – would have become for-profit under those deals, subjecting them to more state scrutiny.

St. Francis had plans last year to join the network of Ascension Health Care, another national Catholic hospital chain, but that fell through.

According to the announcement, the agreement has already received approval from the Archdiocese of Hartford, but it is subject to additional approvals required under Canon Law. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.