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MU Health: St. Mary’s Hospital purchase would be ‘transformational’

University of Missouri Health Care is in exclusive discussions to purchase two area hospitals from St. Louis-based SSM Health.

As ABC17 News first reported Wednesday night, SSM and MU Health are in talks to transfer ownership of St. Mary’s Hospitals in Jefferson City and Mexico, Missouri, to MU Health. MU Health is also hoping to purchase outpatient, home care, hospice and medical group locations in mid-Missouri.

SSM is also in discussions with Mosaic Life Care of St. Joseph, Missouri, for Mosaic to purchase St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, Missouri, and its affiliated services and clinics, SSM said in a news release.

The SSM board of directors began evaluating options for its mid-Missouri operations last year “to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of these vital industries,” the company said in a news release.

“The health care industry has shifted dramatically over the past several years. In order to provide safe, high-quality health care services that are convenient and affordable, health systems must integrate all points of service across the entire continuum of care,” said Laura S. Kaiser, president and CEO of SSM Health. “Given the close proximity of MU Health Care and Mosaic Life Care’s existing services, we feel this transition of ownership will best serve the people of Jefferson City, Mexico, Maryville and surrounding communities.”

MU Health operates five hospitals in Columbia and more than 50 outpatient clinics. One of its affiliates is Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City.

The latest numbers reported to Medicare showed St. Mary’s in Jefferson City operated at a nearly $20 million loss.

It was not clear Thursday afternoon whether the acquisition would require any state government action. State Rep. Kip Kendrick, a member of the state Health Facilities Review Commission that signs off on construction of new hospitals, said he doesn’t think the commission would have to review the acquisition of an already existing hospital. Kendrick said action by the General Assembly might be needed to allow MU Health to “basically be the sole (health care) provider in the Jefferson City area,” but he wasn’t certain.

“I suspect that will be discussed in the coming weeks/months,” Kendrick wrote in response to emailed questions.

MU Health spokeswoman Jesslyn Chew said the takeover will help MU Health “further advance its mission to save and improve the lives of all Missourians. By deepening its presence in Jefferson City and Mexico, MU Health Care can help to ensure continued and expanded access to affordable, quality care for all those living in Missouri.”

Chew said MU Health doesn’t anticipate any increased costs to patients if the purchase is successful. Closing the deal will take several months, she said. MU Health will prioritize retaining current St. Mary’s employees, she said.

MU Health CEO Jonathan Curtwright said in a letter to employees that the deal is “transformational” and will provide better access to care, better training for health professionals and a larger network to provide more advanced care.

Curtwright wrote that MU Health and SSM have been in talks for several months.

“This potential transaction will build upon our strong clinical affiliation with Capitol Regional Medical Center in Jefferson City and continue our commitments to provide health care services to patients throughout Audrain and Cole counties,” Curtwright wrote.

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