Aurora Announces Merger, HQ Relocation to North Carolina
Merger with Atrium Health would create nation's 5th biggest healthcare provider.
Advocate Aurora Health intends to merge with North Carolina-based Atrium Health to become the fifth-largest healthcare provider by patient revenue in the United States.
“Together, we can do more, be better and go faster,” said Advocate Aurora President and CEO Jim Skogsbergh in a press release announcing the merger. “This combination harnesses our complementary strengths and expertise of our doctors, nurses and teammates to lead health care’s transformation for those we are so proud to serve.”
Atrium is headquartered in Charlotte and operates facilities across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Advocate Aurora operates facilities in eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois.
The boards of both organizations unanimously approved the merger, part of a trend of consolidations. The new organization would be known as Advocate, with the Advocate Aurora brand maintained in Illinois and Wisconsin.
“The world of healthcare as we know it is changing at warp speed – and it is rapidly becoming more digital, personalized, scientific and complex,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and chief executive officer of Atrium Health. “This strategic combination will enable us to deepen our commitments to health equity, create more jobs and opportunities for our teammates and communities, launch new game-changing innovations and so much more. Together, we will manifest a new future that significantly elevates the care we provide to every hand we hold and every life we touch.”
Skogsbergh would serve as a co-CEO with Woods for 18 months, then would retire with Woods becoming the sole CEO. The combined board would be made up of equal members of each current board.
Advocate Aurora currently maintains dual headquarters in Downers Grove, IL and Milwaukee. The Milwaukee headquarters is located at 750 W. Virginia St. in The Tannery complex, but the future of non-clinical office space for the organization is already in question. Spurred by the pandemic, Advocate Aurora made remote work permanent in 2021 for 12,000 non-clinical employees.
In 2020, the healthcare provider publicly disclosed it was considering merging with Beaumont Health, the largest system in Michigan. But those talks were called off by the end of the year.
In the press release announcing the latest merger, a “strong organizational presence” was promised to be maintained in both Chicago and Milwaukee. A new institute for health equity would also be created in Milwaukee.
Throughout its network, Advocate Aurora has 27 hospitals, 2.6 million patients, 75,000 employees, 3,600 physicians, 22,000 nurses, more than 500 ambulatory locations and $14.1 billion in annual revenue.
Atrium is no stranger to mergers itself. It merged with Wake Forest Baptist Health in 2020 and Floyd Health of Rome, Georgia in 2021. The Wake Forest University School of Medicine would be “the academic core” of the new entity according to a press release.
“We’ve long admired Atrium Health’s nationally recognized clinical excellence and commitment to health equity,” said Michele Richardson, chair of Advocate Aurora Health’s board of directors. “Given our combined reach, coupled with our talented physicians, nurses and staff, we are uniquely positioned to lead health care’s transformation and create a platform for innovation.”
Richardson would serve as board chair of the combined entity from Jan. 1, 2024 through Dec. 31, 2025. The Atrium board chair, Edward J. Brown III, would initially lead the combined board.
The merger is subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission. In announcing the deal, the entities pledged to create 20,000 jobs, achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and invest $2 billion to “disrupt the root causes of health inequities across both rural and urban underserved communities.”
Advocate Aurora’s primary Milwaukee competition, Ascension, is the third-largest hospital system in the country today by number of hospitals and third by net patient revenue. By number of hospitals, Advocate Aurora ranks 30th and Atrium ranks 19th.