KU Health System Adding Topeka’s St. Francis

The University of Kansas Health System announced this morning that it would form a joint venture with Ardent Health Services to purchase Topeka’s St. Francis Health Center from the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth,

The deal will allow the 378-bed facility to remain open, retain most of the 1,600 employees, including employed physicians, and inject $50 million in fresh capital for the struggling St. Francis during the first year.

“We are grateful our proposal was seen as the most positive path forward for St. Francis,” Bob Page, president and CEO of the University of Kansas Health System, said in a news release announcing the partnership. “We are proud to tell the people of Topeka St. Francis Health’s doors will remain open. … By marrying our resources as an academic medical center and Ardent’s operational expertise, we secure the long-term sustainability of St. Francis Health.”

KU Health System and Ardent will share governance with equal representation on the joint venture board of directors, and will establish a local board of trustees for the hospital, the release said, but St. Francis will continue to be led by local management.

The move comes just months after KU Health System brought the Hays Medical Center into its fold, helping it with a mission to provide acute care across the state of Kansas. The buyers will provide St. Francis Health with the clinical, financial and operational resources needed to take patient care and quality to a new level, officials said, and patients will have access to a health system that brings together nationally recognized physicians and healthcare leaders.

Ardent currently operates 20 hospitals in six states, with more than 500 employed physicians and 18,000 employees.

Regulators must still sign off on the deal, and officials hope to wrap up that process within 60 days of signing the letter of intent to acquire the hospital.