After months of deliberation, the board of St. Clare’s Health System, based in Denville, has opted to negotiate exclusively with St. Louis-based Ascension Health to take ownership of the Catholic system.
The decision was announced Friday afternoon, after months of speculation.
Negotiations are expected to result in the signing of a letter of intent to transfer ownership from current owner, Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives to Ascension. Financial terms will also be part of the negotiation, and an agreement is expected by June 30.
The purchasing group will be Ascension Health Care Network, an affiliate of Ascension Health that funds hospital purchases through a joint venture with private equity company Oak Hill Capital Partners. Ascension Health is a nonprofit, Catholic system that operates more than 500 locations.
According to a statement from St. Clare’s, the system’s board believes “it will be critical for health providers to be part of a broad network of coordinated health care organizations, including health providers, payers and other related health entities.”
In February, Ascension Health said it was not in discussions with St. Clare’s, and was focusing on negotiating with St. Joseph’s Healthcare System, in Paterson.
St. Clare’s operates hospitals in Dover, Boonton, Denville and Sussex.