Ascension Health, the largest chain of Catholic hospitals, has joined forces with Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm, "to form Ascension Health Care Network (AHCN), a joint venture that will provide an alternative funding source for the acquisition of Catholic hospitals and other healthcare provider entities. AHCN will offer these entities access to financial, operational and clinical resources."
Ascension Health is renowned for its quality and safety programs and also its commitment to the efficient and profitable operation of the hospitals in its non-profit network. Further, Ascension operates under a distributed leadership model, designed to ensure a strong local presence in all communities that are served by the national system.
The announcement is short on details as to how the business arrangement between a non-profit chain and a private equity firm will work. But this move seems to be a direct challenge to other private equity firms with little or no hospital experience. Ascension seems to be saying to hospitals in distress: "Before you sell out to someone with no track record and no demonstrated commitment to the long run, call us."
Gentlemen, start your engines . . . .