BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The name of St. Luke’s Hospital has changed to McLaren St. Luke’s, marking the official merger between the local hospital and McLaren Health Care – a hospital network comprising 15 hospitals and 28,000 full-time, part-time and contracted employees and more than 90,000 network providers throughout Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
The new merger, which has been approved by the Ohio Attorney General, will become effective on October 1, when St. Luke’s transitions to the McLaren fiscal accounting year.
Over the next five years, McLaren will invest over $100 million dollars into St. Luke’s to expand and upgrade major service lines, including cardiac and cancer services, while modernizing and upgrading both the intensive care unit and operating rooms.
McLaren is a network headquartered in Grand Blanc, Mich., with ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, 490 employed primary and specialty care physicians, commercial and Medicaid HMOs, home health and hospice providers.
Newly appointed CEO Jennifer Montgomery, who replaced Dan Wakeman, said that McLaren’s goal is to create a local hospital that can provide the highest level of care for patients in the local community and surrounding areas.
“In areas of cancer, cardiac, stroke care and general surgery, we will be looking at all of those things that we can provide to people that maybe right now we are functioning at a ‘one level,’ and we will do an assessment to see if we can go to the next level and prevent people from having to travel to receive that specialized care,” she said.
The hospital’s rich history and longstanding commitment to the local community is its most appealing attribute, Montgomery said.
“The feeling you get when you walk into the hospital is a family feeling, but then you recognize that the care is really at a high level with technology and robotic surgery,” she said. “Honestly, it makes St. Luke’s stand out.”
A variety of insurance carriers are accepted, and a variety of physicians – from independent to those working at large practices – currently provide services at St. Luke’s, and those things will not change with the merger, Montgomery said.
“It really just means that everyone is welcome here and we can offer a lot more than if we were to limit ourselves,” she explained.
As part of its Graduate Medical Education (GME) program, McLaren maintains academic affiliations with medical schools at Wayne State University, Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. McLaren’s six GME campuses offer 27 residencies and eight fellowship programs that train over 650 future physicians annually.
The opportunity to bring additional university students to the St. Luke’s campus for residency work from The University of Toledo or University of Michigan is also being discussed. The hospital is also evaluating other organizations for partnership opportunities, she added.
While the pandemic remains a factor, and COVID patients are being treated at St. Luke’s, Montgomery said that the hospital continues to provide elective surgeries as the staff learns to deal with providing health care services during the pandemic.
“We are learning to manage it (COVID-19) better every day, and as a country as a whole deals with the crisis, we are learning from each other,” Montgomery said.
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr said that the merger between St. Luke’s Hospital and the McLaren Health Care system was critical to keeping the hospital open.
“The board of trustees of St. Luke’s hospital is the absolute best group of people and they did a wonderful job getting this through,” Carr said. “If they had not succeeded, St. Luke’s was going to close its doors. It was far more serious than a lot of people realized. That would have been devastating to our community. They are one of our largest employers.”
Carr said that this area is ripe for growth in the medical services field and he is very pleased to welcome the new hospital system to the area.
“This merger is a great thing for our community and for the future of the hospital. They are going to be in a good position of growth,” he said.