Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Michigan Medicine moving forward with joint venture of St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

Joint venture expands surgical, inpatient services at Chelsea hospital

Author | Mary Masson

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) and Michigan Medicine, the academic medical center of the University of Michigan, have signed a definitive agreement to establish a master affiliation and a joint venture for the 133-bed St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea hospital (SJMC), effective immediately. 

Following Trinity Health Michigan Board's previous approval, today the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the master affiliation and joint venture, which will allow two strong health systems to join forces and enhance care we provide to our communities. Both organizations are committed to providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place through shared clinical objectives and bringing more care options closer to where patients live.

As announced in March 2017, the two health systems signed a letter of intent to carefully examine the feasibility and structure of the proposed joint venture. The two parties have completed this due diligence period and finalized the terms of the definitive agreement under which SJMHS and Michigan Medicine will both have an interest in St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea.  As both the majority and managing partner, SJMHS will provide leadership, nurses and staff and continue to oversee all hospital operations.

"It has been a pleasure working with Michigan Medicine to create a care delivery model that uses both of our existing strengths to benefit patients," said Rob Casalou, president and CEO, Mercy Health and SJMHS. "Our health systems have a long history of working together and this joint venture is a continuation of our efforts to expand access to health services, including specialized surgery and physicians that were previously only available on Michigan Medicine’s campuses."

“SJMHS has a long-standing, positive reputation for delivering high quality care, which makes this an excellent partnership for Michigan Medicine,” said David Spahlinger, M.D., president of the University of Michigan Health System, the clinical care enterprise of Michigan Medicine. 

 “With this affiliation, Chelsea-area patients will have expanded care choices closer to home.”

Michigan Medicine serves patients from across the state through a network of relationships with health systems, hospitals and physicians, Spahlinger said.  A strategic priority in expanding this statewide network is a greater presence in communities across the state, including communities adjacent to Ann Arbor as well as in West Michigan, he said.

Spahlinger added that formation of strategic relationships will help us manage the growing need for hospital beds in the University of Michigan hospitals in Ann Arbor.

Michigan Medicine and Trinity Health, which owns and operates St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Hospital as part of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, have a history of successful collaborations based on the complementary attributes and resources of Michigan Medicine as an academic health system and Trinity Health as a health care system with unique capabilities operating community hospitals.

The joint venture builds upon the existing Michigan Medicine family medicine residency clinic located on the St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea campus since 1978.  The joint venture expands the surgical procedures that Michigan Medicine provides at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, as well as increases access to Michigan Medicine physicians for patients in Chelsea and across western Washtenaw County. 

Construction will begin shortly on the seventh and eighth operating rooms at St. Joe's Chelsea.  More services and surgical procedures will continue to be explored as the partnership advances.

"We have experienced a highly productive year at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea as we have prepared for expanded services and greater collaboration with our Michigan Medicine doctors," said Nancy Graebner, president and CEO, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea.  "We are now primed to begin working together operationally through this new joint venture with a smooth process in place."

All St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea staff will remain SJMHS employees, and no staff reductions will take place as a result of this agreement. Additional colleagues will be recruited as needed to support medical and surgical volumes.  All Michigan Medicine employees, including doctors, residents and house officers who may work at Chelsea, will remain employees of the University of Michigan.

St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea will retain its Catholic identity and continue to abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives.

Trinity Health, SJMHS and Michigan Medicine have had a variety of clinical programs and educational partnerships in place for decades. A master affiliation agreement between the organizations was executed in 2012 to enable the health systems to work together to create health care solutions in communities each mutually serves across the state. 

The new agreements are part of a larger statewide strategy among Trinity Health-owned Mercy Health and SJMHS on one hand and Michigan Medicine and its most recent affiliate, Metro Health in Grand Rapids on the other hand.  This statewide strategy also includes a professional services agreement between Mercy Health cardiothoracic surgery and the department of cardiac surgery at Michigan Medicine, clinically integrated network delivery models that serve West Michigan, and graduate medical education.

Nationally recognized for both quality of care and patient satisfaction, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea employs more than 1,200 individuals with a medical staff of approximately 500 physicians. Key services include robust medical and surgical service lines, six operating rooms, a 24-hour emergency department and senior emergency room, state-of-the-art cancer center with TrueBeam™ linear accelerator, physical medicine and rehabilitation department, a comprehensive head pain treatment unit and behavioral health services. Founded in 1970, the hospital joined SJMHS in 2009 as a way to strengthen patient care by becoming part of a large health care system.

# # #

About Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is a health care organization serving seven counties in southeast Michigan including Livingston, Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Jackson, and Lenawee. It includes 537-bed St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, 443-bed St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, 304-bed St. Mary Mercy Livonia, 136-bed St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in Howell, and 133-bed St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. Combined, the five hospitals are licensed for 1,553 beds, have five outpatient health centers, six urgent care facilities, more than 25 specialty centers; employ more than 15,300 individuals and have a
medical staff of nearly 2,700 physicians. SJMHS has annual operating revenues of about $2 billion and returns about $120 million to its communities annually through charity care and community benefit programs. For more information on health services offered at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, please visit

SJMHS is a member of Trinity Health, a leading Catholic health care system based in Livonia, Mich. Trinity Health operates in 22 states, employs about 131,000 people, has annual operating revenues of  $17.6 billion and assets of  $24.7 billion. Additionally, the organization returns about  $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs.

For more information on health services offered at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, please visit

About Michigan Medicine At Michigan Medicine, the academic medical center of the University of Michigan, we create the future of healthcare through the discovery of new knowledge for the benefit of patients and society; educate the next generation of physicians, health professionals and scientists; and serve the health needs of our citizens. We pursue excellence every day with our affiliates and in our three hospitals, 40 outpatient locations and home care operations that handle more than 2.3 million outpatient visits a year.

Michigan Medicine is composed of the top ranked U-M Medical School and the University of Michigan Health System, which includes the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, University Hospital, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center and the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Michigan Medicine’s adult hospitals were ranked no. 6 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2017 and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital was the only children’s hospital in Michigan nationally ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties analyzed by U.S. News and World Report for 2017-18.

The U- M Medical school ranked ninth in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools ranking in 2018, placing fifth in the country for training primary care physicians. The U-M Medical School also is one of the nation's biomedical research powerhouses, with total annual research funding of more than $470 million.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


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