SoutheastHEALTH announces merger with Mercy healthcare system

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – “We thought it would be better to start to plan for the long term rather than the short term.” 

This long-term approach is why SoutheastHEALTH President and CEO Ken Bateman said Southeast merged with St. Louis based Mercy.

He cited labor challenges and emerging technology as contributing factors to this approach. 

“In the short run, I’ve seen the labor challenges, I’ve seen them overtime they come and go, but I do think the speed at which technology is entering healthcare is going to be another factor in terms of how we prepare for the long term,” he said.

SoutheastHEALTH began searching for potential partners in May 2022, and Bateman said they considered several partners, but Mercy stood out not only in the financial aspect, but also in understanding the culture that Southeast has established. 

“We’re a community hospital,” Bateman said. “We wanted to make sure the system that we joined understood a community hospital culture and how we practice medicine at the community hospital level, and that’s where Mercy checked all the boxes and became really the best and obvious choice for us.” 

Bateman said Mercy brings more resources to the table than SoutheastHEALTH could provide on their own. 

“They’ve got much deeper resources in terms of the overall running of the healthcare system, so they can help us find more efficiencies and better ways to identify quicker pathways for the patient to receive treatment,” he said.

There is also strength in numbers, as Mercy employs more than 40,000 people. 

“There’s a lot of opportunity in terms of just the access to information and even education for our employees,” Bateman said. “If we’ve got a problem, we have to look ourselves. In the future, if we’ve got a problem, we’ve got 40-some facilities with 40,000 people to ask the question to.” 

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