Memorial Health and Catholic Health Initiatives merger on track to close by the end of the month

Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By the end of May, Memorial Health Systems is expected to transfer ownership to Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI). With this merger, Memorial will expand their resources and transition into a faith-based medical organization.

When the deal closes, Memorial will have access to Houston hospitals under the CHI umbrella like St. Luke's, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Texas Heart Institute.

Memorial Health Systems CEO and President Gary Looper said securing the merger between Memorial and CHI is on track.

"We have not set an actual closing date but we do except it to be before the end of the month," Looper said.

CHI is a non-profit faith-based health system with operations in 18 states.

Looper said the partnership between the two entities is at the right time with the right people because they have the right perspective.

"They've got to right perspective on where this industry is going and will help us figure that out and not only survive but thrive during healthcare reform," Looper said.

The biggest change on paper for Memorial is shifting from a traditional to a religious organization, but Looper said it won't be too much different than normal.

"I say all the time that Memorial is not a faith-based organization, but that you wouldn't know it by the people that work here, or the way we behave," said Looper. "When we close on the transaction we will actually dedicate our facilities to become religious facilities, religious institutions, and before and after that, we'll practice a very high degree of faith-based ethics."

And with faith-based ethics there are certain medical procedures that will no longer be offered.

"The most common procedures that you think of that's not practiced in a faith-based organization are sterilization procedures, whereby a new mom wants to have her tubes tied for example," said Looper. "Fortunately for most of the patients in our area, they have alternatives, so that will not be a significant, if any, of an inconvenience for the patients."

Looper said, "Obviously faith-based organizations don't practice abortion, and we don't anyway so that's not a change that we have to make."

"The things that attracted us to CHI and them to us is our mission, and we provide care for all patients regardless of race, creed, or financial status and CHI is the same way. They are a mission-driven organization with a strong ministry to create healthy populations and we practice very much the same way so our culture's and our mission's line up very closely," Looper said.

Another change that could be coming soon after the transition will be re-branding.

"We don't expect to see an immediate name change," Looper said. "Memorial Healthy Systems is a strong name, and it's going to continue to be part of most of our name from here on."

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.