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Charlotte's Atrium Health doubles its size with latest merger

Atrium Health's Carolinas Medical Center
Atrium Health
Atrium Health's Carolinas Medical Center

Charlotte-based Atrium Health is doubling its size. The hospital system announced Wednesday it’s merging with Midwest-based Advocate Aurora Health.

The combined systems will be headquartered in Charlotte and will operate more than 1,000 care sites and 67 hospitals across Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin, according to a news release. Their combined annual revenues will be more than $27 billion, the release said.

The combination, which will be known as Advocate Health, will create the fifth-largest health system by revenue in the U.S., according to Atrium. It will still be known as Atrium Health locally.

“This strategic combination will enable us to deepen our commitments to health equity, create more jobs and opportunities for our teammates and communities, launch new, game-changing innovations and so much more,” Eugene Woods, Atrium’s chief executive officer, said in the news release announcing the merger.

Jim Skogsbergh, who currently leads Advocate Aurora, and Woods will serve as co-CEOs for the first 18 months, at which point Skogsbergh will retire and Woods will become the sole CEO.

This is Atrium’s fourth merger in recent years. In July 2021, the hospital system announced it would merge with a Georgia-based system called Floyd. Atrium in 2020 combined with Wake Forest Baptist Health, including Wake Forest School of Medicine, a deal that paved the way for a new four-year medical school in Charlotte.

These mergers are usually bad for patients and lead to higher health care costs, according to a 2020 brieffrom the Kaiser Family Foundation, which said that “a wide body of research has shown that provider consolidation leads to higher healthcare prices for private insurance.”

Atrium currently has about 65,000 employees. The combined system will have about 150,000.

The merger still will need approval from the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.