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Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital parent St. Joseph Health exploring merger

St. Joseph Health, which employs about 4,000 people in Sonoma County at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and other facilities, announced Friday that it was exploring a merger with fellow Catholic health system Providence Health & Services.

Irvine-based St. Joseph announced that it has signed a letter of intent with Providence Health & Services of Renton, Wash., which operates in five Western states, to create a new, single organization. The two said the talks are in “the very early stages” and would continue over the next couple months.

“We are two mission-focused organizations which truly have the potential of being better together, delivering outstanding clinical care and providing a compassionate presence in all the communities we serve,” said Deborah Proctor, president and CEO of St. Joseph Health, in a statement.

The merger would have a potentially significant impact on the local economy as St. Joseph Health is one of the largest private employers in Sonoma County. It has an additional 1,300 employees in Napa County.

Besides Santa Rosa Memorial, it operates Petaluma Valley Hospital, Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa; two medical foundations: Annadel Medical Group and Queen of the Valley Medical Associates; three urgent care centers in Rohnert Park, Windsor and Santa Rosa; and two hospices in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

A spokeswoman said local officials could not comment on how the possible merger would affect Sonoma and Napa counties.

Nationally, St. Joseph Health has 16 hospitals, physician organizations, home health agencies, hospice care, outpatient services and community outreach services in California, Texas and New Mexico. According to its tax records, it lost $29.6 million in the fiscal year that ended in June 2013. More recent figures were not available.

The two organizations said in a joint statement that a merger would form a contiguous geographic coverage area, which would be advantageous.

“Providence and St. Joseph Health’s missions are aligned to improve the quality of care, increase access and make care more affordable for everyone,” Rod Hochman, president and chief executive officer of Providence Health & Services, said in a statement.

Both systems have “a strong tradition of Catholic health care and share a philosophy of inclusion and diversity” and include non-Catholic affiliates with a mission to serve all, especially the poor and vulnerable, the statement said.

Both also have similar heritages.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange started in Northern California 103 years ago to serve the needy and eventually expanded to serve other parts of the state. Almost 160 years ago, the Sisters of Providence trekked from Montreal to Fort Vancouver, Wash., to start its health care service in the Northwest.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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