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ChristianaCare acquires Union Hospital in Elkton

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ChristianaCare has completed its acquisition of Union Hospital in Elkton, Maryland, which will now be known as ChristianaCare, Union Hospital. | Photo courtesy of UHCC

ELKTON, Maryland ““ ChristianaCare has signed an agreement that merges Union Hospital in neighboring Cecil County, Maryland, into the New Castle County-based health care system.

The agreement, effective Jan. 1, integrated Union’s parent entity Affinity Health and all of its subsidiaries into ChristianaCare. Union Hospital will now be known as ChristianaCare, Union Hospital, and the campus, which houses the hospital and other health services, will be known as ChristianaCare, Cecil County.

It increases the operational footprint of ChristianaCare, which currently has two hospital campuses, Wilmington and Christiana, that boast more than 1,200 beds, as well as a freestanding emergency department in Middletown. It also notably expands ChristianaCare across state lines in terms of hospital services for the first time ““ it does operate two primary care offices in Southern New Jersey.

Union Hospital is a full-service community hospital located in downtown Elkton with 72 beds and provides an assortment of specialty care, including oncology, gastroenterology and audiology, along with imaging and laboratory services.

According to officials, all Union Hospital operations will continue without significant changes or interruptions as the integration process begins. Affinity Health has about 1,200 employees.

The merger is not a surprise as the two parties signed a letter of intent in June, and ChristianaCare and Union Hospital have partnered previously. For about 20 years, ChristianaCare operated an oncology unit in Elkton in partnership with Union. In 2016, it closed the unit as the Radiation Oncology Center in Elkton opened. In dedicating the new facility, Union Hospital President and CEO Dr. Richard Szumel told attendees that Christiana was owed “a debt of gratitude for what they’ve done for us up to this point,” making the new center possible.

“ChristianaCare and Union Hospital have been serving the people of Cecil County as neighbors for many years. This integration will advance our ability to make a positive impact on the health of health of every person in every community we serve,” said ChristianaCare President and CEO Dr. Janice Nevin in an email to hospital directors and trustees announcing the move. “That includes providing high-quality, safe, affordable hospital care when people need it – and it also includes a wide array of services and partnerships to help people achieve their best health and manage chronic conditions where they live, work and play. We’re incredibly excited to welcome the caregivers of Union Hospital as we join together in service to the greater Cecil County community.”

The merger completes a difficult period for Union Hospital, which saw a previous planned merger with Baltimore-based LifeBridge Health fall apart in December 2018 after a year of negotiations. Just a few weeks later, Union laid off more than 30 employees, many of whom were senior management-level staff.

The merger means that for the first time in the 110-year-old hospital’s history it will no longer be independently owned. It will bring a new level of financial stability that is has been lacking in recent years though.

ChristianaCare, which breaks its organization into several tax-exempt organizations, produced a net revenue of more than $210 million in Fiscal Year 2017, according to publicly available audits. The organization as a whole held more than $2.3 billion in net assets.

On the other hand, Union Hospital has endured a rough stretch over the last few years, and produced a net operating loss of $5.8 million in Fiscal Year 2019 ““ that was down considerably from the previous fiscal year when it had a net operating loss of about $12 million, according to Maryland state audit records. It holds about $82 million in net assets as of June 30.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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