Jeramey Jannene

Aurora Announces Merger, HQ Relocation to North Carolina

Merger with Atrium Health would create nation's 5th biggest healthcare provider.

By - May 11th, 2022 02:53 pm
St. Luke's Medical Center. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

St. Luke’s Medical Center. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

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.”

The move would result in the largest healthcare provider in Wisconsin relocating its headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina. The combined entity would have 67 hospitals, more than 1,000 “sites of care,” 148,000 employees, 7,600 physicians, 5.5 million patients and $27.1 billion in annual revenue. Advocate Aurora currently has more revenue ($14.1 billion to $13 billion) and staff members (75,000 to 73,000) while Atrium has more hospitals (40 to 27) and patients (2.9 million to 2.6 million).

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.”

If approved by regulators, it would be the second merger in five years for the former Aurora Health Care. The healthcare provider announced its intention to merge with Advocate Health, the largest system in Illinois, in December 2017. Skogsbergh is the former CEO of Advocate and was co-CEO of Advocate Aurora until former Aurora CEO Nick Turkal retired in 2019.

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.

Advocate Aurora operates the largest hospital in Milwaukee, St. Luke’s Medical Center at 2900 W. Oklahoma Ave., as well as Aurora Sinai Medical Center, 945 N. 12th St. It has a number of clinics and other offices throughout the city.

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.

Categories: Business, Health, Weekly

4 thoughts on “Aurora Announces Merger, HQ Relocation to North Carolina”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Mission Statement of corporate hospitals like Aurora, Atrium, and Ascension:

    Meet ’em… Greet ’em… Treat ’em… Street ’em…

  2. mkeumkenews09 says:

    Wow – third by patient revenue – that’s really important to the communities they are supposed to be serving – NOT!

    How many more closures of small facilities, in neighborhoods, will this merger necessitate, so that big investors can make even more money?

    How many HQ employees will lose their jobs in Milwaukee and Downers Grove?

    How much money will the two board chairs and two CEOs earn as a result of this merger?

  3. RetiredResident says:

    More jobs leaving Wisconsin. Ron Johnson must be thrilled.

  4. says:

    Any of them providing treatment outcome numbers?
    Pre & Post merger would be useful.
    So would excuses if not.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us