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This file photo shows the CHI St. Alexius hospital in Dickinson, N.D., earlier in 2017. Grady McGregor / Forum News Service

Dignity Health, CHI merger will combine ministries in new Catholic health system

DICKINSON, N.D. — The merger of two national health systems will likely not have a significant impact in Dickinson, a hospital president said Thursday, Dec. 7.

Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health have signed a definitive agreement to combine ministries and create a new, nonprofit Catholic health system, the organizations announced in a joint press release Thursday. The new, as-yet unnamed health system will include more than 700 care sites and 139 hospitals, approximately 159,000 employees and more than 25,000 physicians and other advanced practice clinicians. However, Reed Reyman, president of CHI St. Alexius-Dickinson, said the situation is still very fluid.

"We won't know anything definitive until May or June of 2018," Reyman said. "As of right now we're not hearing that it'll affect us at all. The name will still be the same, and I guess as the two systems begin to merge together I'm sure there will be some changes, but we're not sure what those changes will look like. Nothing major is in the works, nothing that the general public would recognize."

Nationally, CHI CEO Kevin Lofton and Dignity CEO Lloyd Dean will serve as co-CEOs, each with specific and independent responsibilities and decision-making authority. Lofton will have authority for mission, advocacy, sponsorship and governance, system partnerships and information technology, while Dean will have authority for all of operations, including clinical, financial and human resources.

"We are joining together to create a new Catholic health system, one that is positioned to accelerate the change from sick-care to well-care across the United States," said Kevin Lofton, chief executive officer of CHI. "Our new organization will have the talent, depth, breadth, and passion to improve the health of every person and community we serve."

The new organization plans to establish its corporate headquarters in Chicago and operate under a new name that will be chosen in the second half of 2018. Local facilities will continue operating under their current names. Currently, CHI is based out of the Denver area, while Dignity is based out of San Francisco.

"I think for the first couple months the people most directly impacted are national folks that work in those two offices," Reyman said. "I think right now nationally will be the biggest impact and then we'll see over the next six to 12 months how it'll impact us, if it does at all."

The hospital has been aware of the possible merger for "quite some time," Reyman said, adding he was "happy to hear that we're moving forward."

The deal is anticipated to close in the second half of 2018 and is subject to federal, state and church approvals.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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