Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore plans to buy Cardinal Shehan Center/Stella Maris in Timonium, in a deal the institutions' officials described yesterday as a "new beginning for Catholic health care in Maryland."
"Stella Maris actively sought a partner with a Maryland and Catholic tradition," Sister Louis Mary Battle, president of Cardinal Shehan Center/Stella Maris, said at a news conference at Stella Maris. "We found that partner in Mercy."
Both organizations will remain intact, continuing to offer care to residents and patients, said Sister Louis Mary.
She was joined by representatives of Mercy and the Archdiocese of Baltimore at the complex off Dulaney Valley Road, which has been owned by the archdiocese since 1953.
The transaction should take about 3 1/2 months, said Mercy President Sister Helen Amos, who declined to disclose the sale price.
The purchase includes Stella Maris, a 448-bed, long-term care facility and 20-bed hospice for terminally ill patients; St. Elizabeth Hall Apartments for seniors; 140 acres of the 181-acre Timonium campus; the Blessed Sacrament Residence program for the elderly in the 4100 block of Old York Road in Baltimore; and Stella Maris at Mercy on the eighth floor of the downtown hospital.
Health care mergers such as the Mercy/Cardinal Shehan deal continue a trend in Maryland and elsewhere toward integrated health care services, said Nancy Fiedler, spokeswoman for the Maryland Hospital Association.
Nearly half of the state's 52 hospitals have aligned with others, she said, including recent partnerships between Sinai Hospital and Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, and Liberty Medical Center and Bon Secours Hospital.
Yesterday, the proposed Mercy/Cardinal Shehan union and the bright, sunny day were cause for celebration by the participants.
"There is a touch of the luck of the Irish," said Sister Helen, alluding to the Sisters of Mercy's Irish heritage. "One year ago, we were shoveling through the Blizzard of '96. Today is marked only by sunshine."
Cardinal Shehan Center and Mercy -- a 287-bed, full-service medical center on St. Paul Place that was founded in 1874 -- are operated by the Sisters of Mercy.
"Sharing a mutual bond through the Sisters of Mercy, we have a singularity of purpose," Sister Helen said. "Stella Maris is a good fit. We can care for the tiniest newborn to those who are dying to family members accompanying them in their final hours."
During the merger transition, Sister Helen said, the institutions will devise a strategic plan. "There are no building plans we are prepared to announce," she said.
Mercy and Stella Maris held several sessions for employees yesterday to explain the merger. Mercy employs more than 2,000 people. Cardinal Shehan Center has about 850 employees.
As for job security, Sister Helen said, "There will be a high priority to retain the work force that has made Stella Maris successful." But she added, "In any business, it is unrealistic to offer a guarantee."
Bishop William C. Newman, regional vicar for the Eastern Vicariate, offered the archdiocese's blessing for the merger, which he said had been in the works for a long time.
"I feel like I'm cutting the apron strings for the archdiocese," he said, adding, with a laugh, "It's a pretty old child, though -- 43 years." Seriously, he said, "The archdiocese believes this partnership is a natural. Mercy and Stella Maris will be well-positioned to serve the Baltimore metropolitan area and the city."
Pub Date: 1/08/97