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UAB to acquire Ascension St. Vincent’s

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved an agreement with Ascension for UAB Health System Authority to assume ownership of Ascension St. Vincent’s Health System in central Alabama.

Under the agreement, UAB Health System Authority will assume ownership of all Ascension St. Vincent’s sites of care including the hospitals at Birmingham, Blount, Chilton, East and St. Clair, as well as the One Nineteen Campus; the Trussville Freestanding Emergency Department; and imaging centers and other clinics that are part of Ascension Medical Group. The transaction will include current Ascension St. Vincent’s services, facilities, caregivers and associates, including a robust network of providers serving the region.

“Patients will continue to have access to the healthcare services and providers they’ve come to trust, and ultimately gain access to a larger care network,” said UAB Health System CEO Dawn Bulgarella, who also serves as CEO of the UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance. “UAB and St. Vincent’s exist to improve lives, and that purpose will drive our actions in the coming months and beyond.”

According to the System, at a time when hospitals are closing across the nation, UAB Health System has made it a priority to strengthen Alabama hospitals, support care providers and increase community outreach and service through innovative partnerships that improve the state’s healthcare ecosystem

“This transaction is very positive for the entire Birmingham metro area. Just as St. Vincent’s has been a trusted and reliable provider of medical services for well over a century, UAB will continue to provide excellent medical care with a mission-driven focus,” State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) told Yellowhammer News. Garrett serves as Chairman of the House Ways & Means Education Committee.

“I am most excited about the additional opportunities for workforce development and medical education across central Alabama,” Chairman Garrett said.

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The UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance launched in 2020 to increase Alabamians’ access to high-quality, innovative medical care and help patients receive the right care at the right time and place. UAB and Ascension St. Vincent’s leadership view this agreement as the natural next step to continue to expand access to sustainable care in Alabama.

Ascension St. Vincent’s CEO and Ascension Senior Vice President Jason Alexander says UAB Health System – with a statewide network of 17 hospitals, both owned and affiliated, and with its integrated care delivery system and proven record of promoting patient-centric, sustainable care across Birmingham and Alabama – is best positioned to extend opportunities for patients to access a larger care network into the future.

“As part of our shared commitment to our patients, caregivers, associates and community, we have continued to discuss options to better deliver on our missions in an increasingly complex environment,” Alexander said.

“It became clear that adding Ascension St. Vincent’s to UAB Health System’s network of owned hospitals – and combining and optimizing our collective strengths – is the solution to ensure that our community retains access to sustainable, high-quality healthcare. Among other benefits, patients will gain access to a larger network of local services through UAB.”

“Even as our structure is changing, Ascension’s dedication to health equity and to serving the most vulnerable in Alabama remains steadfast,” added Alexander. “The Ascension Foundation for Health Equity will continue its presence in the market and expand grantmaking beyond the transition period, investing in nonprofit organizations that accelerate positive change for generations of Alabamians.”

“Our mission and vision to provide life-changing care and be the leader in improving the health and lives of all we serve aligns with the outstanding St. Vincent’s caregivers and associates who have served these communities for years,” Bulgarella said. “We look forward to supporting continued operations and providing opportunities for Ascension St. Vincent’s caregivers and associates to essentially remain in their current positions; our goal is to support fulfilling and meaningful careers in service to our patients and communities.”

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The transaction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2024, subject to standard regulatory approvals and pending satisfaction of closing conditions and approval by the Catholic Church. Until that time, UAB Health System and Ascension St. Vincent’s will continue normal operations while their teams collaborate to plan the transition.

Both entities are committed to working and communicating diligently with patients, employees, caregivers, associates and community partners.

“UAB Health System and Ascension are committed to our patients and employees, caregivers and associates and will work collaboratively to ensure a smooth transition in the short term, and that we enhance the overall patient and employee experience in the long-term,” Bulgarella said.

Ray Watts, M.D., who chairs the UAB Health System Board in addition to serving as UAB president, says UAB Health System is uniquely positioned to deliver on that commitment to sustain patient and employee success.

“UAB Health System is recognized among the nation’s best for innovative, world-class, people-first care, as well as among the best places to work in healthcare,” Watts said. “As an Alabama-operated health system we love, understand and meet the needs of our local communities, and we deeply respect Ascension St. Vincent’s caregivers’ and associates’ similar community- and mission-focused commitment.”

Bulgarella says Ascension St. Vincent’s central Alabama operations also has a proud history on which UAB Health System plans to build with Ascension caregivers and associates.

“Since 1898, Ascension St. Vincent’s caregivers and associates have served our community well,” Bulgarella said. “We are excited to honor and continue their culture and legacy, and make sure they feel secure and appreciated in this transition. I look forward to integrating our talented, mission-focused teams as we work together toward continuity and positive results for those we serve.”

During a special called meeting of the UA System Board of Trustees at which the membership interest purchase agreement passed with unanimous support, Bulgarella and UA Interim System Chancellor Sid J. Trant recommended the resolution for approval.

“As you all know, the University of Alabama System and the UAB Health System exist to improve the lives of Alabamians and beyond,” he said. “This acquisition will go a long way to that end and will move the UA System toward fulfilling its vision of becoming the preeminent public system of higher education and health care in the United States.”

Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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