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Advocate, NorthShore partner to expand pediatric care in Chicago area

Advocate Children's Hospital and NorthShore University HealthSystem have forged a joint operating agreement to expand pediatric care in the Chicago area.

The move comes a year after Downers Grove-based Advocate Health Care, which includes the children's hospital, and Evanston-based NorthShore walked away from a merger that would have made the combination one of the largest not-for-profit hospital networks in the nation, scrapping the plan after federal officials raised antitrust concerns. Advocate merged with Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee instead.

The deal boosts NorthShore's branding power with parents. The four-hospital network isn't well-known for treating children, but Advocate is. Its pediatric hospital has two campuses, one in south suburban Oak Lawn and another in northwest suburban Park Ridge.

The partnership will include more than 600 pediatricians, pediatric subspecialists and maternal fetal medicine doctors from the two systems, as well as hospital and outpatient programs and services in the nine-county region, said Mike Farrell, president of Advocate Children's Hospital.

"It will enable us to capitalize on shared physician expertise and combine pediatric specialties to generate significant cost efficiencies and advance innovation to elevate quality care," Dr. Michael Caplan, NorthShore chairman of pediatrics, said in a statement.

Doctors will better coordinate care and offer more integrated services for patients who need more specialized inpatient treatment or who have chronic conditions, like diabetes or asthma.

"The current focus of the partnership is improving the quality and the access of the pediatrics services, making sure we have the right clinical expertise for our patients and family," Caplan said in an interview. "But over time, we have interests and intentions in developing digital programs that will synergize between two institutions."

Both NorthShore and Advocate will continue their academic partnership with UChicago Medicine on the South Side, Caplan said.

The joint program also calls for shared governance and financials with a single leadership team and a board of directors between organizations. Farrell will head the leadership team with co-Chief Medical Officers Caplan and Dr. Frank Belmonte of Advocate.

The health systems will build the program over the next few months and launch the partnership in July.

"Advocate, NorthShore partner to expand pediatric care in Chicago area" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.

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http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20180516/NEWS/180519941