MercyOne CEO discusses acquisition by Trinity Health

DES MOINES — As we first reported last week, Michigan-based Trinity Health completed its acquisition of the Iowa-based MercyOne medical system on September 1st.

MercyOne CEO Bob Ritz says patients across Iowa won’t notice any immediate change as the early transition involves business systems. “We have two different sets of what I’ll call infrastructure, underneath operating our organization, we’ll be moving to one,” he says. “So rather than having two payroll systems, for example, we’ll have one.”

Ritz says this process will take two years to complete and that’s when patients will notice the change. “Patients will see a marked improvement in our ability to move their information with them wherever they go in our system of care. So we have upwards of 400 locations across Iowa,”he says, “and if a patient moves from location one to location two because they need to get additional services or see a different doctor, or whatever the case may be, all that information will go with them.” 

He says that should be ready by the spring of 2024. Ritz says there are no plans to rename MercyOne, and they don’t anticipate any drop in employee numbers.  Ritz says they are still struggling to find staff in what he calls the prolonged aftermath of a global pandemic. “We continue to rely on outside agencies to help us with temporary staffing. And we see that across the country. And I don’t want to use the word all hospitals, but I would I would bet safely that the majority of hospitals in the country are having the same type of situation,” Ritz says.  

Ritz says staffing will continue to be an issue moving forward — just as it is for a lot of businesses. “It’s been a big challenge to help all the colleagues that are part of our organization, we get the help they need to take care of the patients we care for. We’ve relied on outside agencies, and they’ve been great for us. But it’s not, you know, it’s not a long term solution. And it’s, quite frankly, it’s very, very costly,” according to Ritz.

Trinity Health is one of the largest not-for-profit, Catholic health care systems in the country with operations in25 states. MercyOne was founded in 1998 through a collaboration between Catholic Health Initiatives, now CommonSpirit Health, and Trinity Health.