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Ochsner, Rush merge with goal of expanding access to healthcare in Mississippi

Warner Thomas (President & CEO, Ochsner Health) with Larkin Kennedy (President & CEO, Rush Health Systems). Photo courtesy of Ochsner Health

A merger between two major healthcare systems aims to expand access to care and additional programs in Mississippi. 

With the signing of a shared mission agreement, Rush Health Systems will merge with Louisiana-based Ochsner Health and the deal expected to be finalized in mid-2022. 

The six Mississippi hospitals and 31 clinics within Rush’s network will join Ochsner—a leading healthcare provider in our neighboring state with a vast footprint in the region already—as will Rush’s more than 400 employees. Ochsner currently owns and operates a a medical center in Bay St. Louis and is affiliated with three hospitals and over 100 clinics across the state

“We have tremendous respect for Rush Health Systems and the work they have done to advance care in Mississippi. The announcement today is a natural progression of our existing partnership with Rush, and we are excited to work with them to expand services while improving the health and wellness of people in the communities Rush serves,” Warner Thomas, President and CEO, Ochsner Health, said. “We look forward to building on the great work of Rush to improve access to high-quality, cost-effective and innovative care.”

The announcement of the agreement included the stated goals that the two providers hope to accomplish with the merger. 

  • Expanded access to specialty and sub-specialty services so that more patients can receive the care they need closer to home, including cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, neurology and highly specialized stroke care, women’s services, cancer treatment and surgical oncology.
  • Innovation in healthcare delivery through Ochsner’s expanded technological and digital capabilities, including expansions in telehealth, digital monitoring and clinical improvements guided by artificial intelligence.
  • Access to Ochsner’s robust clinical research network, one of the largest in the Gulf Southso Rush patients will be able to participate in groundbreaking, novel therapies, including the latest in cancer treatment, close to home. 
  • More efficient, affordable care through the sharing of best practices and resources. Economies of scale will allow Ochsner to find efficiencies throughout the system, and then invest more in programs and resources locally.

“I’m extremely proud of the health system Rush has become since its founding more than 100 years ago, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for our patients, our people and our communities as we become Ochsner Rush Health,” Wallace Strickland, Rush Health Systems Board Chairman and former president and CEO, said. “I am confident we’ll be able to do even more for the people of east Mississippi and west Alabama with the resources of a larger system such as Ochsner Health.”

The organizations clarified that all medical staff will retain existing privileges after the effective merger date and that patients may continue to use existing insurance at all facilities.

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