By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) and Ascension recently announced a formalized agreement for MCHS to purchase Ascension-owned Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.
The health care giants signed a memorandum of understanding in March 2016. The signing of a purchase agreement came March 31, 2017, over a year later, and coincided with the end of the first quarter, the time frame in which MCHS had hoped to have a deal solidified.
“About a year ago, we signed a letter of intent, which was essentially an agreement to agree to our acquisition of the hospital from Ascension,” said Marshfield Clinic General Counsel Jerard Jensen. “We spent the ensuing year developing and negotiating an actual definitive agreement for the acquisition of the hospital, and we have just completed that process and inked the definitive agreement.
“So that sets the stage for the runway to closing, which, if things go well, we should be in the hospital by June.”
Although the deal has been agreed upon, Jensen stated that Ascension and MCHS will need to seek further approval before moving forward.
“We now begin the process of manager-to-manager dialogues and begin to take all the various technical steps that you need to take in order to step in and take over operation,” added Jensen. “A couple of preliminary matters will be Vatican approval. Ascension needs to obtain approval of the Vatican to divest an asset like this, and the transaction requires approval of the Federal Trade Commission as well.”
Officials say that no significant staffing changes are expected to occur and that the clinic will look to fill some vacant positions in areas of need.
“I don’t think that if you walked in the day before and the day after we acquire the hospital you will notice anything different,” said Jensen. “Everything that is there now will pretty much be there afterward, and the functions that are performed there now will be performed there afterward.”
While the House of the Dove and Bright Horizons Day Care Center are a part of the transaction, the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge and Ronald McDonald House are not.
“What we are buying is assets, so if the building is owned by the hospital, we would buy the building, but if the building is subject to a lease and is operated by somebody else, we would take it subject to that lease,” Jensen said.
Ministry Health Care will be transferring the Spirit Air and Ground services to Stevens Point, and MCHS will seek a suitable replacement.
Terms of the agreement have not been released but will later become public.