Lourdes closer to joining new health system

Lourdes Medical Center on Fourth Avenue in Pasco.
Lourdes Medical Center on Fourth Avenue in Pasco. Tri-City Herald

Lourdes Health Network is a step closer to becoming part of a Tennessee-based health care company.

A definitive agreement now is in place for RCCH HealthCare Partners to acquire the Pasco-based health network.

Lourdes currently is part of Ascension, which is the largest nonprofit health system in the country and the largest Catholic health system in the world.

Early last year, Lourdes officials announced that the hospital was on the market for a new partner. Ascension was moving to a model of “regional, clinically integrated systems of care,” with a focus on larger metro areas with clusters of hospitals and facilities, and Lourdes’ size and location — it’s relatively small, with the next-closest Ascension hospital in Lewiston — meant that wasn’t a good fit, a Lourdes spokeswoman said at the time.

That summer, officials announced that Capella Healthcare had signed a letter of intent with Ascension and Lourdes to acquire Lourdes, along with Ascension’s St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho.

Capella since has merged with RegionalCare Hospital Partners to become RCCH HealthCare Partners.

The definitive agreement also covers St. Joseph.

“Throughout this process, our goal has been to strengthen these health ministries so their associates, physicians and volunteers can continue to provide exceptional, caring health services to their respective communities,” said Robert J. Henkel, executive vice president of Ascension, in a statement. “...We are confident that joining RCCH will give Lourdes and St. Joseph the ability to faithfully serve individuals in the Pasco and Lewiston communities well into the future.”

RCCH HealthCare Partners operates 17 regional health systems in 12 states, including Capital Medical Center in Olympia.

Marty Rash, executive chairman, said his company looks forward to becoming part of the Pasco and Lewiston communities.

“Our goals will include working together with health care professionals and community leaders, led by local boards that are 100 percent made up of community leaders and physicians, to ensure the continued provision of high-quality, compassionate healthcare and to expand and enhance services provided locally,” he said in a statement.

Lourdes will remain a Catholic health care system, officials have said.

It’s celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Its history dates to 1916, when nuns who were part of the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived by train to set up the area’s first hospital.

“Through all the changes (over Lourdes’ many years), our commitment to serving the health needs of our community has been steadfast, and that commitment will continue and grow as we become part of RCCH,” said John Serle, Lourdes president and CEO, in a statement.

A timeline for finalizing the agreement wasn’t available Wednesday.

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529, @SaraTCHerald