Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a non-profit health system based in Engelewood, Colorado, and Mercy Health have signed a definitive agreement and transferred ownership of Mercy Hot Springs hospital and physician clinic to CHI’s St. Vincent Health System (SVHS) in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The 282-bed Mercy Hot Springs will operate in a regional network with SVHS and take the new name St. Vincent Hot Springs.

Physicians and staff members at Mercy Hot Springs will continue to be employed by the hospital.

The key objectives of the transaction are to enhance the Catholic health ministry and to strengthen access to health care.

St. Vincent president and CEO Peter Banko said, "The founding Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and Sisters of Mercy would be proud to see their 126-year ministries strengthened today through the formation of a larger, regional health care system serving southwest and central Arkansas."

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Mercy president and CEO Lynn Britton said the agreement with CHI provides assurance that Catholic health care has a strong, sustainable future in Hot Springs.

"The affiliation with SVHS provides the opportunity to strengthen health services locally as well as across the entire region, and enables our co-workers and physicians to continue to do what they love – provide exceptional care and service to their community in a faith-based environment," Britton added.

"The affiliation with SVHS provides the opportunity to strengthen health services locally as well as across the entire region."

Thomas Fitz, who served for nearly a decade as CEO for Catholic Health East’s St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Care System in Georgia, has been selected to serve as interim president of St. Vincent Hot Springs.

Fitz has previously worked with CHI in Kansas and Morrilton in supporting sponsorship transfers and serving as an interim leader.

SVHS has committed to preserving all existing physician relationships in the Hot Springs community, and to create a strong and integrated regional physician network throughout the state.

SVHS also intends to continue the core health care services and charity care, which is currently provided by Mercy in the Hot Springs community. Now this process will be overseen by a local board of community and physician leaders.

Through continued sponsorship of the Cooper Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center, Mercy will also maintain a commitment to outreach services in the Hot Springs community.

Mercy, the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the US, includes 33 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, two rehab hospitals and one orthopaedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,100 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Image: Catholic Health Initiatives headquarters in Englewood, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Jordangruener.