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CHRISTUS, Trinity Mother Frances Alignment Was Two Years In The Making

The joining of Tyler’s Trinity Mother Frances with Irving-based CHRISTUS Health was the result of a two-year search for a partner to help it expand services throughout East Texas, its CEO said in an interview Monday afternoon.
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The joining of Tyler’s Trinity Mother Frances with Irving-based CHRISTUS Health was the result of a two-year search for a partner to help it expand services throughout East Texas, its CEO said in an interview Monday afternoon.

The pair announced last week that Trinity, the largest health system in East Texas, had signed a letter of intent to be absorbed into CHRISTUS’ international healthcare network. Trinity will get four board seats and its sponsoring organization, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, will now sponsor CHRISTUS. Its six hospitals (three general acute care, two rehabilitation and long-term care, and one heart), 40 outpatient facilities, and its physician group will now fall under the CHRISTUS banner. CHRISTUS will also provide capital to help expand throughout Northeast Texas, said CEO Ernie Sadau.

“We have been focused on East Texas for a long time. Many of our facilities within CHRISTUS Health are all along the eastern border of Texas from Corpus Christi all the way through Beaumont and all the up to Texarkana,” Sadau said. “We’ve always seen an opportunity to continue to grow and provide more access to healthcare in East Texas.”

Trinity Mother Frances President Lindsey Bradley said the system began courting potential partners more than two years ago, after developing a strategic growth plan. The demographics showed that the system would need to add access points in more areas throughout its market. He said the system is healthy financially, but determined the best way to achieve that goal would be to join a larger partner. Under the letter of intent, CHRISTUS will provide capital to do just that—specifics as to just how much money that will be are still being ironed out. But Bradley said one of the goals is to double the amount of primary care physicians in the market area.

“We employ something north of 350 providers, both physicians and mid-levels, at 40 sites of care around East Texas,” Bradley said. “Part of our growth strategy is we see many areas around East Texas that need and want healthcare services. You recognize that the healthcare world is changing; many more services will be provided in an ambulatory basis and people want those services closer to home.”

While based in Irving, CHRISTUS doesn’t have much of a presence in North Texas. It has, however, focused a strategy on expanding throughout the southern part of the state. It also has a significant presence in western and northern Louisiana. Sadau described Tyler as a “fast-growing economic market” that will help boost its presence along the Texas-Louisiana border. Smith County grew by 4.4 percent from 2010 to 2014 according to Census data, a few percentage points shy of the state average of 7.2 percent.

Now, the deal is in the hands of the attorneys and the accountants, verifying that the numbers match up and writing the final contract. Both men said they expect this to close within the next four months. In addition, Bradley said this would not affect Trinity Mother Frances’ relationship with Baylor Scott & White Health’s Texas Care Alliance, a conglomerate of nine mostly rural hospitals and hospital systems that are tackling population health initiatives.

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