Wheaton Franciscan joins Columbia St. Mary's, Ministry with closing of Ascension deal

MILWAUKEE -- It’s final: Two major metro Milwaukee Catholic health care systems — Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Columbia St. Mary’s — are under the single ownership of St. Louis-based Ascension Health and preparing to compete with the area’s market-share leader Aurora Health Care.

The closing of the transaction, which was announced Tuesday, combines Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare with Columbia St. Mary’s as well as Milwaukee-based Ministry Health Care.

Glendale-based Wheaton Franciscan and Ascension announced on Oct. 29, 2015, that they signed a letter of intent for the Wheaton Franciscan Wisconsin business to join Ascension. The Wheaton Franciscan Sisters decided to exit the health care business and combine with Ascension, which is the largest nonprofit health system in the United States and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

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