SSM Health, Quorum Health sign letter of intent to explore sale of Jefferson City hospital

Bishop McKnight affirms importance of the continuance of Catholic health care values; supports role of health care providers in living those values


As representatives of SSM Health and Quorum Health Corporation announced their intent to explore a sale of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital–Jefferson City, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight looks forward to participating in the process, which will eventually require approval by the Holy See.

“Caring for the sick is a core element of our Catholic mission,” he said. “I am very much encouraged by the possibility of Quorum Health continuing the high quality of health care services in Jefferson City, honoring the legacy of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Mary and other pioneers.”

Having been informed Nov. 11 of the two entities’ decision to enter into a period of exclusive negotiation, Bishop McKnight said it will be essential the negotiations honor not just the history of Catholic health care in the area, but its continuation.

This can be accomplished by providing conscience protection for those who are employed at St. Mary’s, and in ensuring the Church’s mission to provide care for those in need is prioritized, he stated.

Since St. Mary’s is a Catholic institution in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Church law requires the local bishop to provide pastoral guidance in any transfer or sale, although he does not have direct or final authority.

“The Church is concerned first and foremost about the obligation of our institutions to our mission,” Bishop Mc­Knight explained. “Even if the hospital is sold, the mission of the Church — to care for the sick in mind, body and spirit — must continue. We have an obligation to uphold that mission, alongside the obligation to be fiscally prudent.”

While a Catholic institution is one way of supporting the mission of the Church, that mission can continue through the ministry of individuals who serve in the health care professions.

“I am grateful for all who work in health care, especially those who serve because of the values of our Christian faith,” the bishop said. “I look forward to continued collaboration in ensuring appropriate, high quality care to the people of Mid-Missouri.”

Common goals

Bishop McKnight’s statement came in response to the announcement from representatives of SSM Health and Quorum Health Corporation of their intent to explore a sale of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital–Jefferson City and associated community medical group practices by SSM to Quorum Health.

By signing a Letter of Intent (LOI), the organizations have entered a period of exclusive negotiation regarding the hospital campus that was constructed in 2014.

Both parties will begin a due diligence process aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of high-quality care in the region, with the goal of reaching a definitive agreement in the second quarter of 2021, they said in a joint statement.

“Quorum Health shares our desire to bring secure, sustainable care to this community,” said SSM Health Regional President Mike Baumgartner. “Our conversations with them thus far have been very impressive in terms of their dedication to supporting clinicians, hospital employees and the community. We have the best interests of our employees, providers and the community at heart, and we are confident that Quorum Health is a strong partner for continuing and deepening service to all.”

Quorum Health is a Tennessee-based health care system with 22 affiliated hospitals across the country, including several facilities in southwest Illinois.

The company specializes in operating hospitals in non-urban communities, caring for nearly 2 million patients annually through its hospital affiliates and clinical practices.

Quorum is passionate about improving quality and expanding access to services, while empowering local leaders to engage physicians and employees, according to the joint statement.

“We are honored to explore an acquisition with a system of SSM Health’s caliber,” said Quorum Health President and Chief Operating Officer Marty Smith. “It is clear from early conversations that our organizations share a deep commitment to providing high-quality care and strengthening the communities we serve. We look forward to learning more about the hospital and community as well as the dedicated teams of physicians, nurses and employees that are a vital part of both.”

Distinguished history

SSM Health is a Catholic, not-for-profit health system serving the comprehensive health needs of communities across the Midwest through a robust and fully integrated health care delivery system.

The organization’s more than 40,000 employees and 10,000 providers are committed to providing exceptional health care services and revealing God’s healing presence to everyone they serve.

SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital–Jefferson City has been a vital part of the Central Missouri since 1905.

The hospital moved to its current location in 2014.