Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mo. Baptist Joins Group with Barnes Market Share Hits 26 Percent

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mo. Baptist Joins Group with Barnes Market Share Hits 26 Percent

Article excerpt

Missouri Baptist Health System said Monday that it will merge with Barnes Jewish Christian Health System, creating a health-care monolith with a 26 percent share of the St. Louis hospital market.

Missouri Baptist jumped ship from a competing hospital alliance formed just six months ago.

The new merger gives Barnes Jewish Christian a stronger grip on hospital services in west St. Louis County, with its affluent population and generous health insurance coverage.

The merger was the latest maneuver as hospitals around St. Louis jockey to form alliances, preparing for major changes in health-care financing. The alliances are designed to cut costs and present united fronts to insurance companies.

Missouri Baptist is at Ballas Road and Highway 40 in Town and Country. Missouri Baptist is a mid-sized hospital with about 500 beds and 1,750 employees. It also owns a small hospital in Sullivan, Mo., seven MedFirst clinics in St. Louis and 50 clinics in rural towns.

Barnes Jewish Christian has 4,400 beds and 18,000 workers at 13 hospitals from Vandalia, Ill., to Columbia, Mo. It also owns seven nursing homes. It is the region's second-largest employer, behind McDonnell Douglas Corp.

"We don't anticipate any major layoffs" because of the merger, said Fred Brown, chief executive at Barnes Jewish. Any staff reductions can probably be handled by attrition, he said.

The merger of Barnes-Jewish and Christian Health Services hospitals last year resulted in 100 job cuts, he said.

Doctors with admitting privileges at Missouri Baptist will not automatically get privileges at the other hospitals. Health maintenance organization contracts and other insurance contracts will remain in effect.

No money will change hands as Missouri Baptist is merged into the bigger organization, hospital officials said. The Barnes Jewish Christian name won't change to include Missouri Baptist.

Missouri Baptist will become part of an organization with central ownership and a central administration under Brown. It was that central command that Missouri Baptist found attractive, said Missouri Baptist spokesman Walter Furlong.

Last August, the hospital allied with the SSM Health Care System in a group made up of St. …

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