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Mercy acquisition of Covenant, Sartori, Oelwein hospitals complete

WATERLOO – The Wheaton Franciscan Sisters have finalized an agreement making their hospitals in Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Oelwein part of Mercy Health Network of Des Moines.

The change, first announced in October and effective Sunday, makes Covenant Medical Center, Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls and Mercy Hospital in Oelwein part of the Mercy network, which includes hospitals in Des Moines, Mason City, Clinton, Newton and other Iowa communities.

Patients and health care providers will see no change, said Jack Dusenbery, CEO of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Iowa. “Probably the main thing we will be working on is making sure the transition is seamless — we don’t miss a second of anything,” Dusenbery said. A sign change has not even been part of discussions leading to the change.

Under the terms of the agreement, MHN becomes the owner of Wheaton Iowa properties, according to the announcement. The transaction will not change local services or leadership. MHN will have representation on the local Wheaton Iowa board, which will remain in existence but now answer to Mercy officials instead of Wheaton.

The Wheaton sisters, based in Wheaton, Ill., decided to get out of the health care business while its facilities “are healthy, fiscally sound and have a strong sense of mission and values,” the announcement said.

Sister Pat Norton, chair of the Sponsor Member Board for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare stated, “The choice to transfer our ministries ensures that the needs of the times will continue to be addressed in each community, as the Sisters have worked to do for more than 140 years.”

“The Franciscan Sisters have been in Waterloo for more than 100 years and just cared about the community,” Dusenbery said. The sisters founded St. Francis Hospital, forerunner of Covenant, in Waterloo in 1912 and have operated Sartori, previously a municipal hospital, since 1997. “In my tenure they have allowed us to continue to grow and focus on helping others. If Mercy can do for our community what the Franciscan Sisters have done for the community over the past 100 years, we’ll be in great shape. And I think they will.”

Mercy Health Network was founded in 1998 under a joint operating agreement between two of the largest Catholic, not-for-profit health organizations in the U.S., Catholic Health Initiatives, based in Englewood, Colo., and Trinity Health of Livonia, Mich.

With the addition of Wheaton Iowa, MHN includes 15 owned hospitals and medical centers, 26 community hospitals affiliated through contracts, and 207 physician clinics.

“MHN is positioned to best meet the needs of patients, families, employers, insurers and communities throughout the state,” said Dave Vellinga, President and CEO of MHN. “Together, we strive to be the premier health care system offering the highest value to those we serve.

“We have the highest regard for Jack Dusenbery and his leadership team,” Vellinga said. “We are fortunate to have such a strong group of leaders partnering with us in our mission of healing and improving health.”

Wheaton-Iowa is the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan area’s second-largest employer, with more than 3,000 workers, second to John Deere, with more than 5,600, according to information provided by the city of Waterloo’s financial consultants.

Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier www.wcfcourier.com