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Aspirus and St. Luke’s one step closer to formal affiliation

Aspirus Health and St. Luke’s have signed a definitive agreement which is the next step towards formal affiliation.

The two healthcare groups will create a comprehensive healthcare system.

The proposed affiliation intends to expand rural access to health care in northeastern Minnesota, north central Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Under the agreement:

• Aspirus will invest at least $300 million over eight years to fund St. Luke’s strategic projects.
• Aspirus will commit to implementing Epic and other standard systems to promote integration and efficiency within 24 months of closing.
• Aspirus Health Plan will expand into St. Luke’s Service Area within two years following closing to promote coordinated, cost-efficient, and effective delivery of healthcare services to its members.

“I’m grateful for the support we’ve received as we’ve continued through this affiliation process with our like-minded partner St. Luke’s,” said Matt Heywood, Aspirus President and CEO. “Together, we will continue to evolve the way we care for our patients, especially those in rural areas, who will have the opportunity to access the same high level of care as patients in other parts of the country. We look forward to working with regulators on the approval of the affiliation.”

The organizations say Aspirus and St. Luke’s will work together to solve healthcare challenges and create a healthier future for the communities they serve.

“For more than 140 years, we’ve taken great pride in caring for this region,” said Eric Lohn, St. Luke’s Co-President/CEO and Chief Financial Officer. “With the challenges facing the health care industry, including St. Luke’s, we believe that now is the time to affiliate. We are confident that Aspirus is the right partner to help us further grow and continue providing the best level of care for the next 140+ years.”

The combined organization would operate 19 hospitals and 130 outpatient locations with nearly 14,000 team members.

The system will operate headquarters in Wausau and maintain a corporate office in Duluth.

Pending regulatory approvals, the organizations hope to complete the affiliation in spring 2024.

North Central Wisconsin’s other major healthcare provider is also in the middle of an agreement with another hospital system.

Marshfield Clinic and Essentia Health have signed an integration agreement.

That would create a regional system in parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and the Upper Peninsula.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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