St. Louis-based Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the country, is ending its sponsorship of the Catholic Health hospital system in Buffalo.
Officials downplayed the significance of the move, saying that the relationship had run its course, and that it would lead to no changes in the identity, mission or day-to-day operations of the hospital system.
“We greatly appreciate the support we have received from Ascension since our system formed nearly 20 years ago,” Joe McDonald, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health, said in a statement.
Catholic Health formed in 1998 to affiliate five hospitals: Mercy; Kenmore Mercy; Sisters of Charity; the former St. Joseph in Cheektowaga, now considered a satellite of Sisters; and Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, which closed in 2000. One other hospital, Mount St. Mary's in Lewiston, merged into Catholic Health in 2015.
The different hospitals, as well as nursing homes, brought different religious sponsors to the affiliation, including the Daughters of Charity and Sisters of St. Joseph health systems, which later formed Ascension Health, as well as Trinity Health and the Diocese of Buffalo.
“As health care continues to evolve, however, so do the relationships we share with our corporate members and sponsors," he said. "This change will have no effect on our patients, associates or physicians, and will in no way diminish our faith-based mission to serve those in need, which will continue under the sponsorship of the Diocese of Buffalo and Trinity Health.”
Officials said there was no financial aspect to the decision. However, the new governing structure will give more authority to the remaining sponsors and may simplify decision-making at the corporate level, officials said. Ascension will no longer be represented on the Catholic Health board of directors that oversees the hospital system.
The change does not prevent Catholic Health from purchasing services from Ascension, and officials said Catholic Health will likely continue certain business contracts in the future.