Banner Health Systems to divest St. Luke Hospital

The Board of Marion County Hospital District No. 1 received word on Sept. 18 that Banner Health System plans to divest itself of St. Luke Hospital in Marion, as well as many other health-care facilities.

Banner and its predecessor, Lutheran Health Systems (LHS), have leased St. Luke Hospital from the district for many years.

The board was informed that Banner decided to withdraw from the rural Great Plains towns that were the heart of the LHS network.

Eleven hospitals and 19 other health-care facilities, mostly in Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, are for sale. The old LHS headquarters in Fargo, N.D., will be closed as Banner consolidates its operations in Phoenix, Ariz.

Banner officials informed the St. Luke staff of its plans on Sept. 19 and planned to meet with the Hospital District board within a few days from that date.

District officials were quick to point out that services at St. Luke will continue without interruption, regardless of potential management changes.

“St. Luke is a well-equipped, financially stable facility, with a committed, competent and caring staff,” said Gene Winkler, board chairman.

“This decision is about the direction of the Banner corporation, not about the institutional viability of St. Luke,” he added. “We do not anticipate any changes that would disappoint the communities we serve, our residents or the hospital staff.”

Winkler noted that any proposed transfer of Banner’s leasehold of the hospital’s facilities and equipment would require the consent of the district board.

“We will carefully consider their proposals and we will make decisions that will keep St. Luke, its residents and patients, its staff and the district community, healthy and stable for years to come,” Winkler said.

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