(St. Louis, Missouri, and Glendale, Wisconsin) October 29, 2015 — Ascension, the nation's leading non-profit health system and world's largest Catholic health system, has signed a letter of intent with the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters for the transfer of all Southeast Wisconsin operations and related corporate services of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare to Ascension Wisconsin. Upon the expected closing of this transaction in the first quarter of 2016, Ascension Wisconsin will comprise 27 hospitals, more than 24,000 associates including 1,000 medical group physicians, 150 clinics, and $3.5 billion in annual operating revenues.

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare is one of the largest healthcare providers of care in Southeast Wisconsin, with nearly 11,000 associates including 350 medical group physicians. In Fiscal Year 2015 the system provided $139 million in charity care and other community benefit through its eight hospital campuses comprising 996 hospital beds, three long-term care facilities, and other sites of care.

Ascension Wisconsin – which is composed of Ministry Health Care based in Milwaukee  and Columbia St. Mary's in Milwaukee – would expand to include Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare including All Saints in Racine, Elmbrook Memorial Campus in Brookfield, St. Joseph and St. Francis in Milwaukee; Wisconsin Heart Hospital and  Midwest Spine and Orthopedic Hospital in Wauwatosa; Franklin Hospital and Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, a joint venture, in Franklin; Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group, outpatient centers, three transitional and extended care facilities, Home Health, and Hospice.  

"Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Ascension share the same Mission – caring for all persons, especially those who are struggling the most," said Robert J. Henkel, FACHE, Executive Vice President, Ascension, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Health. "We share the same approach to serving our communities – providing compassionate, personalized care to all throughout their life." Ascension Health is the healthcare delivery subsidiary of Ascension.

"This decision came after a lengthy discernment process by the Sisters as we are aging and our numbers are getting smaller in the United States. We wanted to transfer our corporate ministries while these ministries are healthy, fiscally sound, and have a strong sense of mission and values," said Sister Pat Norton, Chair of the Sponsor Member Board for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. "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," she added. 

"Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare has a long history of delivering high-quality and compassionate care in Southeast Wisconsin through our dedicated physicians and associates," said John Oliverio, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. "We look forward to our continued discussions with Ascension and the opportunity to be part of an organization that shares our strong commitment to our local communities. We anticipate reaching a definitive agreement and completing the transfer in early 2016."

"I've known John Oliverio for many years, and he is a tremendous, spirit-filled servant leader," said Anthony R. Tersigni, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension. "Under his steady guidance, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare has become an important part of the Catholic healthcare ministry in the United States."

"We believe the addition of associates, physicians, caregivers and volunteers from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare will allow them to benefit from the scale and expertise of Ascension, while also contributing their expertise to help us lead the transformation of healthcare as we serve individuals in our communities," said Nick Desien, Senior Vice President, Ascension Health/Wisconsin Ministry Market Executive.

The transition in Southeast Wisconsin is planned to occur in coordination with the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters' transfer of their other health care and housing ministries in Iowa, Illinois, and Colorado.

Further details will not be communicated until the transaction has been closed.

About Ascension

Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world's largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all persons with special attention to those who are struggling the most. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 150,000 associates and 35,000 aligned providers serve in 1,900 sites of care – including 129 hospitals and more than 30 senior care facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, treasury management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension's own group purchasing organization.

About Ascension Wisconsin

Ascension Wisconsin includes Columbia St. Mary's in Milwaukee and Ministry Health Care in Appleton (which includes Affinity Health System), with 19 hospitals and hundreds of sites of care across the state. Together, the health systems employ more than 13,000 associates. In fiscal year 2015, Ascension Wisconsin provided $145 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty.

About Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare ​is a Catholic, not-for-profit health care organization that currently includes more than 100 sites in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois including 14 hospital campuses, three transitional and extended care facilities, two home health agencies, 70 clinic sites with more than 500 medical group  physicians, more than 17,000 associates, and nearly 3,000 affiliated physicians. Started more than 140 years ago and formally incorporated in 1983, the System is sponsored by the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters and also includes a multi-state housing ministry. Corporate services offices are located in Wheaton, Illinois and Glendale, Wisconsin.

Wheaton hospitals in Southeast Wisconsin include Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – All Saints; Wheaton Franciscan – Elmbrook Memorial, St. Joseph, and Midwest Spine and Orthopedic Hospital and Wisconsin Heart Hospital Campuses; Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Francis and Franklin Hospitals; Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, a joint venture, in Franklin. The region also includes Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group with more than 300 physicians in more than 50 locations, a network of outpatient centers, three transitional and extended care facilities, Home Health, and Hospice. ​


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