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Centura Health, parent company of Mercy Hospital, announces its breakup

CommonSpirit Health and AdventHealth say they will manage their hospitals separately
Mercy Hospital, owned by Centura Health. CommonSpirit will independently manage Mercy and several other hospitals that were in the Centura network. (Brandon Mathis/Special to the Herald)

On Valentine’s Day, one of the largest hospital systems in Colorado announced that it is getting a divorce.

For more than a quarter-century, Centura Health has operated as a partnership between CommonSpirit Health and AdventHealth. On Tuesday, Centura announced that CommonSpirit Health, which is Catholic-affiliated, and AdventHealth, which is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, will split, with each planning to manage their respective hospitals separately.

“CommonSpirit Health and AdventHealth have collaboratively agreed that they can best serve their communities and health care ministries without a partnership,” a news release announced.

Mercy Hospital, owned by Centura Health. CommonSpirit will independently manage Mercy and several other hospitals that were in the Centura network. (Josh Stephenson/Special to The Colorado Sun, file)

The news release said the partnership “has reached its natural maturity.”

Centura will continue to manage all 20 hospitals until the dissolution is finalized. The news release stated that there will not be any disruption to patient care, and the two divorcing systems said they are committed to their employees and patients during the transition.

“CommonSpirit Health and AdventHealth maintain a strong relationship and are united in their commitment to the caregivers and ensuring the communities they serve have access to the best health care during and well beyond this transition,” the news release stated.

The release provided few details about the split, and contained no statements by executives explaining the decision. It did not provide a timeframe for how long it will take to unwind the partnership. A Centura spokeswoman would not even confirm if this announcement means that the Centura Health name will disappear.

“We will only be issuing the release at this time,” she wrote in a text message.

Combined, Centura manages 20 hospitals in Colorado and Kansas, and it ranks as the second-largest hospital system in Colorado in terms of revenue. In 2021, Centura Health hospitals statewide brought in more than $3 billion in net patient revenue, according to a report by independent health care consultant Allan Baumgarten. That ranked it behind only UCHealth in terms of statewide net patient revenue.

The Mercy Hospital campus in Durango. (Brandon Mathis/Special to the Herald)

In the Centura Health marriage, CommonSpirit was the heavyweight, owning 15 of the 20 hospitals. Once the partnership is dissolved, CommonSpirit will independently manage: Mercy Hospital in Durango; Longmont United Hospital; OrthoColorado Hospital in Lakewood; Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Hospital, both in Colorado Springs; St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood; St. Anthony North Hospital in Westminster; St. Anthony Summit Hospital in Frisco; St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Morgan; St. Mary-Corwin Hospital in Pueblo; and St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City. The chain will also manage three hospitals in Kansas – Bob Wilson Memorial Hospital in Ulysses; St. Catherine Hospital in Dodge City; and St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City – as well as a new hospital opening this summer in Colorado Springs.

AdventHealth owned the other five hospitals currently part of Centura: Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville; Castle Rock Adventist Hospital; Littleton Adventist Hospital; Parker Adventist Hospital; and Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver.

Baumgarten, the health care consultant, said the news reminded him of a similar breakup that happened in Illinois in 2021, when AdventHealth and the Catholic-affiliated Ascension broke up a partnership they had formed named Amita. In that divorce, Baumgarten said it was likely that the two sides disagreed about how to grow the joint company.

Centura has been around longer, though, Baumgarten said, and it was not immediately clear to him what might be driving the split. He mentioned possible tensions over Catholic health directives, especially in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Catholic hospitals in the Centura system do not perform abortions and will perform sterilization procedures only rarely – something that Centura had recently re-emphasized at Mercy Hospital in Durango.

“It’s also not unusual to have disputes about money,” he added.

The news release contained no mention of what will happen with people employed directly by Centura Health, as opposed to an individual hospital. That includes CEO Peter Banko, who has led Centura since 2007.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.

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