BILLINGS — They are two of the state’s largest hospital systems and now there’s a lot of questions about what a merger announced Wednesday means for the employees at Billings Clinic and Kalispell-based Logan Health.
In the near future, Billings Clinic and Logan Health are planning to become one, employing more than 9,000 employees across Montana.
"We’ve got two organizations that have the capacity to make a difference in the state, and we really need to have some conversations about how we can create more access and quality and that led to additional discussion," said President and CEO of Logan Health, Craig Lambrecht, on Wednesday.
The two signed a letter of intent to explore a merger, with hopes of finalizing a deal in the summer that would, they say, improve access to quality care.
"There are a significant number of patients that are transferred out of our state and region every year to receive stroke care. This really helps us to integrate systems and get patients for stroke care, in particular, to definitive care as soon as possible," said Dr. Clint Seger, interim CEO at Billings Clinic, on Wednesday.
Logan Health employs around 4,400 employees, and Billings Clinic employs around 4,700. But with talks of a merger, come concerns about staffing and potential layoffs.
However, neither hospital is ready to discuss specifics just yet.
"We certainly are looking at, down the road, what efficiencies we can gain by working together. It’s definitely too early, we are early in the process of this. So, we need to look at how the two organizations come together and what are the synergies that we gain together," added Seger.
Billings Clinic has seen a lot of change over the past couple of years, including sizeable staffing shortages made worse by Covid.
And last year several members of the hospital's leadership team, includingformer CEO Scott Ellner, resigned with little notice.
"As I’ve stepped into the CEO position for the last, almost six months now, my focus has been to really move the organization forward," Seger added.
The hospitals say neither will be changing its name, at least not any time soon. But the change is a big one, that will bring even more changes in the months to come.
"This is not an acquisition; this is two organizations uniting and so, this is us coming together to take care of patients across our geographies," Seger said.