$2.4B Gundersen, Bellin merger to close Nov. 30

Bellin Health and Gundersen Health plan to begin operating as a combined health system Dec. 1, creating a $2.4 billion organization.

The "merger of equals" was announced June 1 with the goal of both systems offering more resources and services to improve patient care. The health systems will have a balanced leadership structure, with CEOs and board chairs in both regions to have equal representation in decision making for the combined entity.

Scott Rathgaber, MD, the CEO of La Crosse, Wis.-based Gundersen, will become system CEO of the merged organization. Chris Woleske, CEO of Green Bay, Wis.-based Bellin, will become system executive vice president and regional president of the Bellin region when the merger is finalized.

John Dykema, chair of Bellin's board of directors, will become chair of the newly created board for the merged system. Heather Schimmers, BSN, RN, chief nursing officer and COO of Gundersen, will become the regional president of the Gundersen region.

"Our health systems have been successfully fulfilling our individual missions, but we know we will thrive and best serve our patients and communities by finding partners with shared missions and strategic visions," said Dr. Rathgaber. "The merger brings transformative opportunities to expand our patient-centered care and community-minded work."

Each system will keep current care locations open and there won't be service closures, according to a report in the Green Bay Press Gazette. Existing partnerships and service agreements will remain after the merger.

As a single entity, Bellin and Gundersen will have 11 hospitals, 14,000 employees and report $2.4 billion in annual revenues. The systems don't anticipate layoffs but do aim to consolidate finance, supply chain, IT and legal operations. The systems will retain separate names and branding in their respective markets, according to the Press Gazette.

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