Two Montana healthcare leaders announce likely merger

Billings Clinic and Logan Health may join forces to cover more of the state

By: - February 15, 2023 1:42 pm

The entrance to the Billings Clinic Commons in Billings (Photo by Darrell Ehrlick of the Daily Montanan).

Two of the largest independent healthcare organizations in Montana announced Wednesday that they are exploring the possibility of uniting in a merger that would expand both organization’s footprints across the state.

Logan Health is the largest healthcare organization in Kalispell and the Flathead area. Billings Clinic was, until the merger of Intermountain Health Care with SCL Health, the largest medical organization in the state. A possible merger will make the joint operation the largest Montana-based healthcare system, as Intermountain-SCL have a larger reach in multiple states with a lesser presence in Montana than other areas, for example, Colorado or Utah.

The move will give Kalispell-based Logan Health more access into Montana’s largest medical corridor in Billings, plus lines of services and referrals through the Mayo Health Network. For Billings Clinic, it opens up a huge market in the northern part of the state that has largely remained untouched by the Billings-based operations.

Though both of the organizations describe Wednesday’s news as a means of exploring how to “unite the two organizations into one integrated, independent Montana-based health city system,” a final “definitive agreement” by both organizations about a merger isn’t expected to happen until early this summer.

“The goal of the combined entity will be to enhance access, service and quality health care of the region,” said a press release put out by both organizations.

“Our two organizations have a lot in common, as independent, physician-led health systems with deep roots in our communities and a commitment to rural health care. The health needs of our rural communities are unique, and we are excited to explore ways to serve our patients’ greatest challenges and raise the bar for health care in Montana and Wyoming together,” said Dr. Clint Seger, chief executive officer of the Billings Clinic.

The two organizations said a new combined healthcare system will allow them to focus on:

  • Improving safety, quality and service
  • Expanding the depth and breadth of primary and specialty care provided locally
  • Providing an inter-connected rural trauma and emergency transport program
  • Engaging in a more effective and impactful approach for addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; population health; health equity and health disparities, including underserved populations and our tribal partners
  • Gaining operational efficiencies to reinvest in advancing care and services for the communities covered by the network
  • Enhancing recruitment and retention of physicians, nurses, clinicians and other key staff
  • Growing medical education, research opportunities and innovation

“Billings Clinic and Logan Health have a long history of serving our communities’ health needs. We are thrilled about our shared vision to create something transformative. We are looking forward to having conversations with our teams and communities as we focus efforts on delivering outstanding care for years to come,” said Dr. Craig Lambrecht, Logan Health president and chief executive officer.

Logan Health is a not-for-profit, 622-bed health system in Montana. While the main medical campus is located in Flathead County, Logan Health draws from a total service area covering 20 counties, nearly 50,000 square miles and a population of nearly 700,000. The health system consists of six hospitals, more than 68 provider clinics and a host of other health care services, including the nation’s first rural air ambulance service (A.L.E.R.T.), which it has maintained for more than 40 years. It employs more than 4,500 physicians, nurses, health care professionals and support staff work.

“Founded in 1910, Logan Health has provided exceptional care for more than 100 years to the communities it serves,” the news release said.

Billings Clinic is a not-for-profit organization, governed by a board of community members, nurses and physicians. Billings Clinic is a physician-led, integrated multispecialty group practice with a Level II trauma center. As a health system, Billings Clinic is affiliated with 18 hospitals and clinics in communities across Montana and Wyoming, along with four regional branch clinics. Billings Clinic is the largest trauma center and the only comprehensive stroke center in Montana and Wyoming. Billings Clinic has more than 4,700 employees, including nearly 600 physicians and advanced practitioners offering more than 80 specialties. Billings Clinic is the first Magnet-designated health care organization for nursing in Montana and is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

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