Aspirus and St. Luke’s Move Closer to Affiliation

Health Systems Sign Definitive Agreement

St. Luke’s, based in Duluth, Minnesota, and Aspirus Health, based in Wausau, Wisconsin, have signed a definitive agreement. This next step moves the systems closer to a formal affiliation to create a comprehensive health care system. The proposed affiliation intends to expand rural access to health care and advance quality of care for residents of northeastern Minnesota, northern and central Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

This follows the July 12 announcement that the organizations had signed a Letter of Intent. 

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both nonprofit organizations, the organizations will collectively focus on these specific areas to advance quality care in the region: 

  • Aspirus will invest at least $300 million over eight years to fund St. Luke’s strategic projects.
  • Aspirus will commit to implementing Epic and other standard systems to promote integration and efficiency within 24 months of closing.
  • Aspirus Health Plan will expand into St. Luke’s Service Area within two years following closing to promote coordinated, cost-efficient, and effective delivery of healthcare services to its members.

“I’m grateful for the support we’ve received as we’ve continued through this affiliation process with our like-minded partner St. Luke’s,” said Matt Heywood, Aspirus President and CEO. “Together, we will continue to evolve the way we care for our patients, especially those in rural areas, who will have the opportunity to access the same high level of care as patients in other parts of the country. We look forward to working with regulators on the approval of the affiliation.”

Aspirus and St. Luke’s will work together to solve health care challenges and create a healthier future for the communities they serve.

“For more than 140 years, we’ve taken great pride in caring for this region,” said Eric Lohn, St. Luke’s Co-President/CEO and Chief Financial Officer. “With the challenges facing the health care industry, including St. Luke’s, we believe that now is the time to affiliate. We are confident that Aspirus is the right partner to help us further grow and continue providing the best level of care for the next 140+ years.”

All six unions at St. Luke’s have extended their support, signing letters stating that they believe this affiliation is in the best interest of their members and the community. In addition to honoring all physician, labor and union contracts, the definitive agreement includes retaining, integrating, and providing additional opportunities to all St. Luke’s employees.

The combined organization would operate 19 hospitals and 130 outpatient locations with nearly 14,000 team members, including 1,300 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians. The system will operate headquarters in Wausau, Wisconsin, and maintain a corporate office in Duluth, Minnesota. 

Aspirus Health and St. Luke’s patients, members, and communities will continue to receive exceptional care from the teams they know and trust. Next steps include state and federal regulatory reviews, including an upcoming community meeting with the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General. Each organization will keep its communities informed as updates are available.

Pending regulatory approvals, the organizations hope to complete the affiliation in spring 2024. 

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