Effective today, three regional health systems that comprised the Marian Health System have joined Ascension Health. St. Louis-based Ascension Health Alliance, parent organization of Ascension Health, reached an agreement with Marian Health System. Ascension Health is the largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system in the nation.

The three health systems are Ministry Health Care in Wisconsin and Minnesota, St. John Health System in Oklahoma, and Via Christi Health in Kansas, which has been an affiliate of Ascension Health since 2007. Marian Health System was founded by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in 1989.

“Ascension Health Alliance and the health systems of Marian share a common mission of serving all with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable,” said Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Health Alliance. “We also share a commitment to providing spiritually centered, holistic care and advocating for a compassionate and just society through actions and words. This joining together is another expression of our ongoing commitment to strengthen Catholic healthcare.”

“We’re excited to welcome the three health systems of Marian to our national health ministry,” said Robert J. Henkel, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Health. “Adding their strengths and expertise to those of Ascension Health creates a combined ministry that is even better able to live our Mission of serving all and to position ourselves to meet the needs of our communities.”

Nicholas F. Desien, in addition to his role as President and Chief Executive Officer of Ministry Health Care, has agreed to also serve as Ascension Health Ministry Market Leader for Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma. As Ministry Market Leader, Mr. Desien will provide leadership, support and direction to the Health Ministries in these three states, sharing accountability for their strategic positioning and operational performance.

“We’re pleased that Nick Desien has agreed to add the role of Ministry Market Leader to his responsibilities,” Mr. Henkel said, “and our executive leadership community looks forward to working closely with him and with all of the leaders, associates and physicians across the three new Health Ministries of Ascension Health.”

In addition, Sister Therese Gottschalk, who has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Marian Health System, has agreed to assume a new role as Executive Advisor to the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ascension Health, where her experience and knowledge will be invaluable in supporting the transition of the new Health Ministries. She will continue to serve on the Boards of Ministry Health Care, St. John Health System and Via Christi Health.

The process to bring Ascension Health and Marian Health System together began more than two years ago, when, recognizing the challenges facing hospitals around the country and the imminent demands and opportunities of healthcare reform, the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother and its health systems’ leadership pursued a strategy to identify a national partner.

Marian Health System leadership determined Ascension Health to be the best fit because of the alignment of Mission, values and management styles across both organizations.

“Ascension Health shares our goal of serving the community, with special attention to the poor,” Sister Therese said. “By joining representatives of other religious congregations and laypersons in the sponsorship structure of Ascension Health Alliance, the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother are able to ensure Catholic healthcare in the United States remains strong.”

The health systems announced plans to enter into the agreement in August 2012. Specific terms of the final agreement are confidential. The agreement includes Marian’s hospitals and more than 180 hospitals, clinics and other sites of care throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Ministry Health Care is the second healthcare ministry of Ascension Health in Wisconsin, joining Columbia St. Mary’s in the greater Milwaukee area. Columbia St. Mary’s operates four hospitals and 62 clinics serving families in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Sheboygan counties and has been a ministry of Ascension Health since its founding in 1999.

About Ascension Health Alliance

Ascension Health Alliance is transforming healthcare by providing the highest quality care to all with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. Last year Ascension Health Alliance, through its subsidiary Ascension Health, provided more than $1.3 billion in care of persons living in poverty and community benefit programs. Its Mission-focused Health Ministries now employ more than 150,000 associates serving in more than 1,500 locations in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

About Ministry Health Care

Ministry Health Care, which includes the recently acquired Affinity Health System, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving more than 1.1 million people across Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota. Ministry operations generate more than $2.2 billion in annual operating revenue with 15 hospitals, 46 clinics and nearly 12,000 employees. More than 650 physicians and advanced practice clinicians provide personalized care at Ministry primary and specialty care clinic locations. Home healthcare, hospice and long-term care services are also provided across the region.

About St. John Health System

St. John Health System is a fully integrated healthcare system that encompasses eight hospitals in northeastern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, including St. John Medical Center, St. John Owasso, St. John Broken Arrow, St. John Sapulpa, Jane Phillips Medical Center, Pawhuska City Hospital, Sedan City Hospital and Nowata Hospital. Other subsidiaries of the St. John Health System include OMNI Medical Group and Family Medical Care primary care physicians, St. John Physicians, Inc., a multi-specialty group physician practice; St. John Villas senior living centers, St. John Urgent Care centers and other outpatient treatment centers. More than 7,000 associates are employed by St. John.

About Via Christi Health

Via Christi Health is the largest provider of healthcare services in Kansas. Via Christi employs more than 10,000 in its hospitals, senior villages, physician offices and health services. In fiscal year 2012, it provided $90.5 million in community benefit to those it serves, including the poor. Visit viachristi.org.