NU Medicine to grow 1,600 employees next month

Jeremy Margolis, Reporter

Northwestern Medicine is set to expand by more than 1,600 employees next month, following state approval of a merger with KishHealth System on Tuesday.

The agreement, which was approved by the Illinois Health Facility and Services Review Board in an 8-0 vote, will add two hospitals and about 20 medical locations to the Northwestern Medicine system. KishHealth, a community-owned health system based in DeKalb, Illinois, operates facilities in eight cities in the state.

Northwestern Medicine and KishHealth still need to finalize a contract before the agreement is official, and that is expected to happen by the end of the year, said Northwestern Medicine media relations director Christopher King.

The partnership will help KishHealth System fill gaps in neurology, pulmonology, cardiology and behavioral health, Tom Matya, chair of KishHealth System’s board of directors, wrote in a statement presented at a September public hearing.

“In a unique synergy of community-based providers practicing as part of an academic health system, the community will see an expansion of resources and services,” Matya wrote.

Northwestern Medicine will grow to more than 90 locations, including six hospitals and will employ 26,500 people, according to an August news release by Northwestern Medicine and KishHealth.

Once the deal is finalized, the integration process will be gradual and could take several years to complete, said Theresa Komitas, KishHealth’s marketing and public relations director.

“It’s nothing that will seem like an overnight process,” Komitas said. “We’ll just begin to introduce the Northwestern brand and we’ll begin to see that name out in the community – advertising and signage. Then representatives from both sides will begin to sit down and see where gaps exist, finding service areas where we can partner to provide a higher level of care that is not currently available in a community health setting.”

Talks between the healthcare providers began last May when KishHealth signed a letter of intent to explore an affiliation with Northwestern Medicine.

In August, KishHealth signed a definitive agreement to join Northwestern Medicine.

The collaboration is attractive to KishHealth because it will consolidate their many existing partnerships, Komitas said.

“We are currently a community health system, so obviously in some areas we have limitations as to the services that we can provide, so we work with a number of various healthcare partners at this time to help fill those clinical gaps,” Komitas said. “By being part of Northwestern we will have a single partner and that will help to enhance the quality of service for the patient.”

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