OHSU and Legacy Health announce plans to merge in 2024

Together, the two Portland healthcare giants would serve more than 3 million patients a year.

Rain soaks the entrance to Legacy Good Samaritan, a hospital in Northwest Portland.

A new independent foundation will receive Legacy Health’s net cash on hand and investments above its outstanding debt at closing.

Photo by Aboutmovies

A seismic shift in Portland’s healthcare landscape has been set in motion. Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Legacy Health, two of the city’s five largest healthcare providers, have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to merge.

It’s totally understandable if your heart just skipped a beat. If and when the deal is completed, the combined entity would become the City of Rose’s largest employer, with 32,000 staff on its payroll and 100+ locations (including 10 hospitals) that serve more than 3 million annual patient visits in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Let’s break down the initial details.

How did we get here?

The COVID-19 pandemic (and sluggish recovery) was hard on Portland’s hospitals, especially Legacy Health. In fiscal year 2023, the nonprofit health system lost $172 million, shaking the organization to its core and raising questions about its future. In 2022, OHSU experienced an adjusted operating loss of $90 million, but as a public corporation partially supported by the state, the research university also received close to $573 million in funding, making its financial outlook more stable.

How will this affect patients?

In this arrangement, OHSU will be the surviving institution and commit $1 billion in capital over 10 years to “better enable the combined organization to expand services, including clinical programs, sites of care, technology solutions, and new care models.” It remains unclear whether any hospitals or clinics will shut down, although Legacy Health already announced its plans to offload its lab operations to Labcorp in an effort to right the ship.

What comes next?

More negotiations will follow in the coming months, with the transaction’s planned conclusion in 2024. Will the move’s sizable hold on the market share violate antitrust law? That will be up to regulators to decide.

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