KU Health System and Ardent Health Announce JV to Acquire St. Francis Health

The University of Kansas Health System and Ardent Health Services (“Ardent”) today announced plans to form a joint venture company to purchase St. Francis Health in Topeka, Kansas. The announcement follows SCL Health’s selection of the joint venture to acquire the 378-bed facility.

The partnership will allow St. Francis Health to remain open and continue serving the community. It will also preserve jobs for substantially all of St. Francis Health’s 1,600 employees, including employed physicians, and will provide the hospital with a $50 million infusion of capital during the first year.

“We are grateful our proposal was seen as the most positive path forward for St. Francis,” said Bob Page, president and CEO of The University of Kansas Health System. “We are proud to tell the people of Topeka St. Francis Health’s doors will remain open. We understand the critical role hospitals like St. Francis Health play for patients, physicians, employees and the communities they serve. By marrying our resources as an academic medical center and Ardent’s operational expertise, we secure the long-term sustainability of St. Francis Health.”

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

As the state’s only academic medical center, The University of Kansas Health System offers more options for patients with serious conditions because of its expertise and leadership in medical research and education. Its physicians are researchers and educators expanding the boundaries of medical knowledge. Its major breakthroughs lead to the life changing treatments of the future. Working with The University of Kansas Health System and Ardent Health Services will provide St. Francis Health with the clinical, financial and operational resources needed to take patient care and quality to a new level. Patients will have access to a health system that brings together nationally recognized physicians and healthcare leaders.

In addition, The University of Kansas Health System has a successful record of working with other healthcare institutions in a variety of partnership models, including Hays Medical Center and others.

Ardent currently operates 20 hospitals in six states with more than 500 employed physicians and 18,000 employees. The company maintains six joint venture partnerships with leading not-for-profit health systems including institutions such as Seton Healthcare, Hackensack Meridian Health Network, and Sacred Heart Health System, as well as two other hospital joint ventures.

“We are honored to partner with The University of Kansas Health System to support the excellent work of St. Francis Health’s dedicated physicians, nurses and employees,” said David T. Vandewater, president and CEO of Ardent Health Services. “Our successful joint venture model will preserve local leadership while providing St. Francis Health with the resources, support and investment needed to maintain and grow the hospital.”

Leaders will begin work with the SCL Health and St. Francis Health teams to complete the transaction, including finalizing agreements and obtaining regulatory approval, with the goal of completing the work within 60 days of signing the letter of intent to acquire the hospital.