MAUMEE, Ohio — St. Luke’s Hospital and McLaren Health Care of Grand Blanc, Mich., on Wednesday officially signed a letter of merger intent to "define ways that the two organizations will work together to best meet the needs of the communities they serve," according to a news release.

The proposed merger includes plans to add significant enhancements to the independent St. Luke's Hospital, including a cancer center affiliated with the National Cancer Institute-designated Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute; an orthopedic, neuro and spine center; upgrades to the infrastructure of the hospital, such as renovating the intensive care center, surgical suites; and more. 

“People always ask the question, 'Well what's that mean for the employees?' The reality is we have about 1,400 full-time equivalents now and if we're expanding services, the general message is 'I'm not going to be cutting employees back if I'm expanding services,'”  St. Luke's President and CEO Dan Wakeman said. 

Those working in the hospital said they were also excited to know their future is bright and they will have a larger influence in the area

“They're glad to know who our partner is going to be and they do feel the same, that it's only going to bring a higher level of care to our community,” St. Luke’s Chief Nursing Officer Jill Trosin said. 

In fact, excitement and relief were the two words used the most Wednesday to explain the new partnership between St. Luke's hospital and McLaren Health Care.

“St. Luke's was not going to be able to continue to operate as an independent facility,” Maumee Mayor Richard Carr said. 

“They are going to invest $100 million initially into this area and so that’s great for northwest Ohio,” Carr added. 

McLaren Health Care network has 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, 490 employed primary and specialty care physicians, commercial and Medicaid HMOs, home health and hospice providers serving Michigan and Indiana. McLaren Health Care operates Michigan’s largest network of cancer centers and providers, anchored by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. 

The evaluation process for the merger is expected to last several months and to be completed by mid-year after final board and regulatory approvals. 

“We have a heavy lift ahead of us because we have to go through the due diligence process in the next 60 to 90 days and then go through the attorney general's approval process, so it's a break I feel good. On the other hand, it's going to be back to the grind around here real quick too,” Wakeman said.

The merger was months in the making and Wakeman said there were 16 organizations that expressed interest in partnering with the hospital. In the end, they felt McLaren was the best fit for what they want to be able to offer the community.

“We can bring scale that will enable them to benefit and improve their financial performance. If you look at health care, the emergence of large integrated healthcare delivery systems have taken place over the last several years and are continuing to grow,” McLaren Health Care President and CEO Phil Incarnate said. 

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