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CHI Franciscan, Virginia Mason officially merge: 5 things to know

CHI Franciscan and Virginia Mason officially formed an 11-hospital health system Jan. 5. The system, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, will be part of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health.

Five things to know: 

1. The merger comes as Virginia Mason Memorial in Yakima, Wash., ended its affiliation with Virginia Mason. The Yakima hospital's board said it wanted to become an "independent, local healthcare system" instead of joining a larger system. The board's decision came after a group of retired physicians affiliated with Virginia Mason Memorial argued a merger would result in fewer specialty services, fewer specialized physicians and lower quality patient care. Virginia Mason health system officials disagreed, arguing the merger could improve healthcare locally.

2. The combined Virginia Mason Franciscan Health will have more than 300 care sites in western Washington. That includes primary and specialty care clinics, surgery centers, the Benaroya Research Institute, the Bailey-Boushay House and the Virginia Mason Institute.

3. The organization will initially be led through a dyad CEO model by Ketul Patel and Gary Kaplan, MD. Mr. Patel's title is CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and president of the Pacific Northwest Division of CommonSpirit Health. Dr. Kaplan's title is CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. More details about the new system's leadership team will be released in coming weeks, the executives said in a Jan. 4 phone interview with Becker's Hospital Review.

4. The combination will bring Virginia Mason under the CommonSpirit umbrella, which is a Catholic health system. During the Jan. 4 interview, Dr. Kaplan said the merger will mean two services will end at the newly combined Virginia Mason Franciscan Health: elective abortions and "Death with Dignity" services. All other comprehensive aspects of end-of-life and palliative care, as well as access to women's and LGBTQ+ services, will remain available, Dr. Kaplan said.

5. The deal, announced in July 2020, will result in a health system with more than 18,000 workers, including almost 5,000 employed physicians and affiliated providers. CHI Franciscan is based in Tacoma, Wash., and Virginia Mason is based in Seattle.

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