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Why an ex-Ascension hospital in Chicago decided to break away

Guy Medaglia, president and CEO of Chicago-based Saint Anthony Hospital, which broke with parent company St. Louis-based Ascension nine years ago, said the hospital has no plans to join another system any time soon.

Mr. Medaglia told Crain's Chicago Business the 151-bed hospital's board chose to break ties with Ascension and maintain its independence. Following the break, he said industry experts told him the hospital would not be financially viable on its own.

"There were a lot of bets out there that Saint Anthony wouldn't be able to make it past two years, let alone nine. I knew it was going to be a risk, but I really did believe that we could make it happen. You have to believe that, otherwise you are never going to win," Mr. Medaglia said.

Mr. Medaglia said unlike other hospitals that are part of a system, Saint Anthony has been able to stay independent because it understands its role as a community hospital and engages with the surrounding community through engagement and partnerships.

"It's tough being part of a system," he told Crain's. "When you are independent you are accountable to the community. The only people we owe are our vendors and our employees and it allows us to do more work in the community."

Saint Anthony also has the added benefit of being located down the street from academic trauma provider Mount Sinai Hospital. Mr. Medaglia said the two organizations maintain an informal partnership and provide different services for the same community. Saint Anthony refers trauma patients to Mount Sinai, while the 319-bed hospital refers all pediatric cases to Saint Anthony.

A Mount Sinai spokesperson reiterated the sentiment to Crain's, stating, "Given the volume of care [Saint Anthony provides], we rarely see ourselves in direct competition with [the] hospital."

The hospital's community focus is what led officials to create a new 32-acre campus expected to open in 2021. The campus will include a 150-bed hospital and more than 250,000 square feet of retail, a childcare center, an outpatient and specialty clinic, and recreation and education centers. Saint Anthony has also maintained a community wellness program for roughly 20 years that has expanded since Mr. Medaglia took the helm in 2007.

"I've got this belief that no one is interested in what's going on at 19th and California because we are a small facility, but as long as we are able to help people, that's why we are here," he said.

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