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Jefferson, Lehigh Valley Health Network sign definitive merger agreement

Upon closing, the integrated system will operate 30 hospitals and more than 700 sites of care.

Susan Morse, Executive Editor

Photo: Courtesy of Jefferson Health

Jefferson and Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pennsylvania have signed a definitive agreement to combine, creating an integrated academic healthcare delivery system, alongside a national research university and an expanded not-for-profit health plan.

The unified system would place it within the top 15 not-for-profit health systems in the United States, Jefferson said.

The deal is expected to be completed later this summer, pending final reviews and execution of closing conditions.

Upon closing, Jefferson CEO Joseph Cacchione will continue to serve as CEO of the Jefferson enterprise. LVHN's CEO Brian Nester will serve as executive vice president/chief operating officer of the Jefferson enterprise and president of the legacy Lehigh Valley Health Network, reporting directly to Dr. Cacchione.

Dr. Baligh R. Yehia will serve as executive vice president and chief transformation officer of the Jefferson enterprise and president of the legacy Jefferson Health, while continuing to report directly to Dr. Cacchione. The newly integrated Board of Trustees and leadership team will be comprised of members from both systems.

Both Jefferson and LVHN will continue to operate as independent entities until the combination closes.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Under the terms of the agreement, the systems will integrate clinical care, operations and identity.

The combined system will increase access to high-quality and affordable care, clinical research and health plan offerings and address health inequities for urban and rural communities in Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, Jefferson said.

Upon closing, the integrated system will operate 30 hospitals and more than 700 sites of care, supported by more than 65,000 employed faculty, clinicians and staff.

The combined organization will offer new educational opportunities for current clinicians and enable exceptional recruiting opportunities. It will expand health plan access that will help vulnerable, at-risk populations receive care to live well and stay out of the hospital, the systems said.

Lastly, the combination will strengthen financial stability, allowing for investments in innovative technologies and better patient outcomes.

THE LARGER TREND

Jefferson and LVHN announcedin December that they had signed a letter of intent to combine.

Jefferson is principally located in the greater Philadelphia region and southern New Jersey. Thomas Jefferson University, home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Jefferson College of Nursing, and the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, comprises 10 colleges and three schools.

Jefferson Health has 17 hospitals and more than 160 outpatient and urgent care locations. Jefferson Health Plans is a not-for-profit organization for health coverage.

Lehigh Valley Health Network, based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, includes 14 hospital campuses and is home to the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital.

ON THE RECORD

"We are delighted to take this next step toward combining with Lehigh Valley Health Network – it is the future, not only for our organizations but also for care in our region," said Dr. Joseph G. Cacchione, CEO of Jefferson. "Through our integrated operating model, the combined organization will provide the communities we serve with access to the highest quality care, the benefits of continuous research and innovation, a network of specialists, clinical trials, and so much more, while also building an organization that prioritizes health through value-based care. This combination promotes access, choice, innovation, opportunity, increased equity and stability – for patients, physicians, faculty, staff, students and health plan members and our communities at-large."

"We could not be more excited about what lies ahead for communities across Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey," said Brian A. Nester, president and CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network. "As our collective teams worked these past months, we confirmed what we had believed to be true when we signed our initial letter of intent – Jefferson is the ideal partner for Lehigh Valley Health Network, our teams and our patients. We look forward to continuing the important work of improving the health and well-being of our communities together."

Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org