Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health to Merge

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San Francisco's Dignity Health plans to merge with Catholic Health Initiatives, a Colorado-based health system, in a deal that would create one of the nation's largest nonprofit health systems by revenue, the organizations announced Thursday.

The news release stated that the organizations are "geographically complementary", which wouldn't affect any overlap in hospital services.

The new system will include more than 700 care sites and 139 hospitals, staff roughly 159,000 employees and more than 25,000 physicians and other advanced practice clinicians.

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While the combined system will be the largest nonprofit system based on operating revenue, Ascension will continue to be the largest by strength through numbers with 141 hospitals. Lofton will oversee mission, advocacy, sponsorship and governance, system partnerships and IT. Dean will have authority for all of operations, including clinical, financial and human resources. The goal is to increase investments in digital technologies such as tele-medicine programs, stroke robots, Google Glass and expand access to outpatient and virtual care settings. "Our new organization will have the talent, depth, breadth, and passion to improve the health of every person and community we serve".

Lloyd Dean, president and chief executive officer of Dignity Health, said the merger offers an "incredible opportunity" to respond to the "evolving health care environment" while delivering high-quality and cost-effective care. That same month, the debt rating agency affirmed Dignity Health's "A" rating with a negative outlook.

S&P said it will likely update CHI and Dignity Health's respective ratings before the merger deal closes.