Why is MU Health Care pursuing this potential transaction?

MU Health Care is committed to creating an outstanding and sustainable academic health system that meets the local needs of Columbia, Jefferson City and Mexico, as well as communities across mid-Missouri and throughout the state. A broader academic health system in mid-Missouri will provide increased local access to primary care, regional access to specialty services; a more reliable path for training and recruiting physicians, nurses and other health professionals; and a larger network that can provide more advanced levels of care.

Why did SSM Health choose MU Health Care to take on ownership of these hospitals?

This decision was the result of a strategic review by SSM Health to evaluate options for ensuring the sustainability of quality health care in the region. SSM Health determined that its ability to build a truly integrated model of care in mid-Missouri was hindered by geographic and financial limitations. SSM Health initiated a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to evaluate other organizations that could integrate points of service across the entire continuum of care.

MU Health Care emerged as the clear choice to ensure that patients continue to have access to affordable, quality care and specialty care services. MU Health Care was the only system that met SSM Health’s selective criteria including a commitment to keep jobs and care local; provide charity care and work with the community to meet unmet needs; enhance access to safe and quality care; recruit and develop physicians to serve local communities; sustain an integrated delivery network model; and ensure the professional futures of current SSM Health employees.

SSM Health firmly believes that transitioning ownership to MU Health Care is the best way to ensure long-term sustainability and access to high-quality care for residents in Jefferson City, Mexico, and surrounding communities.

What kind of transaction is planned?

The potential transaction is a transfer of ownership of St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain, and related health care operations, from SSM Health. MU Health Care is entering into the potential transaction based on its continued growth and strong financial standing. While details of the transaction are still being negotiated, no state funding will be required.

Will this transaction affect the cost of health care?

MU Health Care is committed to ensuring patients have access to affordable, quality health care and believes this potential transaction will lead to a better integration of resources and services to better control costs. It also will provide communities with a full continuum of services close to home, from primary care to more medically complex tertiary care.

What does this potential transaction mean for the communities in Cole and Audrain Counties?

MU Health Care will work with Cole County and Audrain County to create an outstanding and sustainable health care model to best serve the clinical needs of these communities.

The transition will better position St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain to meet the many challenges posed by today’s rapidly changing health care marketplace, which is putting increasing pressure on hospitals and health care systems to expand access to care while also making care affordable.

MU Health Care sees an opportunity to enhance its support for patients across Missouri and aims to ensure communities served by St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain continue to have regional access to quality care and specialty services. It also will provide communities with a full continuum of services close to home, from primary care to more medically complex tertiary care.

Through this transition, these communities also will have greater access to care, a more reliable path for training and recruiting physicians, nurses and other health professionals, and a larger regional network that can provide more advanced levels of care, as needed.

What changes can patients expect to see as a result of this transaction? Will this affect patient care? Will this limit patient choice?

MU Health Care believes that this transaction will further advance its mission to save and improve the lives of all Missourians. By deepening its presence in Jefferson City and Mexico, MU Health Care can help to ensure continued and expanded access to affordable, quality care for all those living in Missouri.

There will be no disruption in the quality of care patients and communities expect and deserve. In fact, nearly 20 percent of patients in Jefferson City are already traveling to Columbia for inpatient health care services – that’s nearly one-in-five patients. We believe affordable, quality care should be delivered close to home. With a stronger health care presence in Jefferson City, many of these patients will not have to leave the area to get the care they need.

It is important to note that this potential transaction will not eliminate patient choice in mid-Missouri. Private practice physicians, physician groups, ambulatory care centers, community health centers and other providers will continue to provide primary care and specialty services – including outpatient surgery, ultrasound and radiological services – and offer patients choices about where and how they receive their care.

Will service lines at St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain be eliminated, consolidated or moved to other MU Health Care facilities?

At this stage, it is premature to speculate about the service line decisions that may be made.

In Cole County, this opportunity builds on MU Health Care’s strong clinical affiliation with Capital Region Medical Center. In Audrain County, this opportunity enables MU Health Care to ensure patients have access to a full continuum of health care services. The opportunity also allows MU Health Care to further its efforts to provide strong support to rural communities that are facing increasing shortages of primary care and family medicine physicians.

How will MU Health Care’s current relationship with Capital Region Medical Center be affected by the potential transfer of ownership of St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City?

MU Health Care has been committed to Jefferson City for more than 20 years through a strong clinical affiliation with Capital Region Medical Center. The potential transfer of ownership of St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City will only strengthen its ability to deliver care as a system that is personalized and meets local needs, while employing the expertise and resources of a premier academic health system that serves central Missouri and beyond.

MU Health Care will carefully consider opportunities to apply sound strategies that prioritize sustainability and local delivery of care across all of central Missouri, recognizing the realities of the rapidly changing marketplace.

How will this transaction impact physicians and employees of Capital Region Medical Center?

MU Health Care has had a strong clinical affiliation with Capital Region Medical Center for more than 20 years and deeply values its employees and physicians. MU Health Care will prioritize the professional futures of all physicians and employees in all discussions.

By deepening its investment in Jefferson City, MU Health Care will help ensure that patients can receive specialty care close to home – in turn, creating new opportunities and increasing demand for physicians within Cole County. MU Health Care remains committed to its relationship with Capital Region Medical Center, its physicians and its employees. MU Health Care and Capital Region Medical Center believe this transaction with present new opportunities for the Capital Region facility and employees.

Will the culture of St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain remain in place under MU Health Care?

Both SSM Health and MU Health Care are mission-driven systems with proven track records of providing quality care to the communities we serve. The spirit of community, compassionate service, clinical excellence, diversity, fairness, and inclusion intrinsic to St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain will remain embedded in the culture of these facilities throughout the transition into the MU Health Care system.

Will St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain remain Catholic hospitals? What will happen to the Catholic artifacts and relics currently within both St. Mary’s Hospitals facilities?

Upon transfer of ownership, these facilities will no longer be operated by SSM Health; they would become part of MU Health Care’s system and would no longer operate as Catholic facilities. However, MU Health Care is committed to the core values intrinsic to SSM Health’s heritage – Compassion, Respect, Excellence, Stewardship and Community – and will ensure that this spirit remains embedded in the culture of both facilities moving forward.

Both organizations also share a deep commitment to caring for the indigent and underserved. MU Health Care will work closely with the civic groups, including faith-based communities, in Jefferson City and Mexico to ensure access to health care services remains available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

MU Health Care also recognizes the importance of spiritual care and will continue to respect and facilitate the ability of patients to choose spiritual care in accordance with their personal beliefs.

Any iconography, crosses and relics will remain with SSM Health should the potential transfer of ownership be finalized.

Will St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain begin offering services prohibited within Catholic health care facilities – such as tubal ligations and abortions – if MU Health Care assumes ownership?

It is too early to share definitive details regarding potential changes to clinical services available at St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City or St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain. MU Health Care will continue to follow all laws and regulations set by the state of Missouri. Consistent with state law, abortions are not performed at MU Health Care facilities unless necessary to save the life of the mother. Other treatment decisions are made between physicians and their patients.

How will this transaction impact physicians and employees of St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain?

MU Health Care strives to be the employer of choice in mid-Missouri by taking great care of people and by paying strong, competitive wages. MU Health Care leadership recognizes the experience and commitment of the physicians and employees at St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain, and will prioritize the retention of these employees. MU Health Care will work with SSM Health to ensure that the benefits and compensation for employees are competitive and market-based.

Through this potential transfer of ownership, current physicians of St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain will continue to serve on an open medical staff, while both physicians and employees will have increased access to a wider range of opportunities for jobs, growth and advancement within the MU Health Care organization.

For employees at St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain, this will increase access to a wider range of opportunities for clinical and non-clinical jobs, growth and advancement within the MU Health Care organization.

MU Health Care will continue to take their interests into careful consideration throughout the process.

Is MU Health Care at risk of growing too large with its expansion beyond Boone County?

While MU Health Care’s footprint has been historically centered in Boone County and the surrounding region, its core mission is to save and improve lives of all Missourians. As a premier academic health system, MU Health Care has provided care to patients and communities across Missouri for decades, working with multi-specialty physician groups throughout the state and through its more than 20-year affiliation with Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City.

Any potential expansion by MU Health Care is firmly rooted in an interest to enhance access to affordable, quality care for all of its patients and communities.

Throughout the potential transaction, MU Health Care will work with the appropriate legislative and regulatory authorities to ensure that the spirit of the transaction aligns with the dynamic industry landscape, drives sustainability, and ultimately results in improved access to local, affordable care for all Missourians.

Where is MU Health Care in this process? What happens next?

MU Health Care and SSM Health signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to transfer ownership of St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital-Audrain. They are now in exclusive negotiations and a period of diligence to further evaluate and define details of the potential transaction before finalizing a definitive agreement. The closing of the transaction will be contingent upon typical closing conditions, including obtaining all regulatory approvals, which may include legislation to give MU Health Care regulatory certainty to proceed.

Who will be involved in the diligence process and finalizing an agreement? Are you working with key leaders and members of the community? If so, whom?

MU Health Care has been working closely with key community leaders – in Audrain, Boone and Cole Counties – to ensure their perspectives are considered throughout this process. In addition, both organizations are committed to keeping key legislative and community stakeholders apprised of any significant developments.

MU Health Care is hosting and participating in forums with employees, physicians and community members in Audrain, Boone and Cole Counties to ensure all perspectives are heard and considered as this process moves forward.

We are being as transparent as we can be without compromising the integrity of our confidentiality agreement (something that is standard practice in an active negotiation process). We welcome the opportunity to engage in thoughtful, open and candid dialogue and encourage others to foster communication, understanding, transparency and clarity for the entire community.

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