In approving St. Joseph-Providence merger, California expects $30M mental health investment

The combined entity will be known as Providence St. Joseph Health and will be the third-largest nonprofit health system in the country.

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As part of a lengthy document approving the planned merger between St. Joseph Health and Providence Health and Services, California officials are requiring a substantial investment in mental health.

Wednesday, the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris gave conditional approval to the merger between St. Joseph Health, based in Irvine, California, and Providence Health and Services, of Renton, Washington. The combined entity will be known as Providence St. Joseph Health.

According to the Orange County Register, the merger will result in the third-largest nonprofit health system in the country. Providence St. Joseph Health will comprise 50 hospitals and hundreds of clinics in seven Western states.

The two organizations first announced plans to merge last November. After a review, the California AG’s office on Wednesday issued a 385-page document outlining the conditions for the deal to go through.

Most of the verbiage focused on continuing to serve communities in the state for a specific amount of time, but one provision for new investment jumps out:

Providence Health & Services, St. Joseph Health System, and Providence St. Joseph Health shall implement a mental health initiative, with an initial expenditure of $30 million, in the California communities served by their local ministries ($10 million per year for each of the first 3 years after the closing date). These funds will be expended solely in California and will be used to identify and address the treatment and causes of mental illness including, but not limited to, mental health counseling, disorders affecting children, depressive disorders, psychotic disorders, treatment for addictive behavior, homelessness and other root causes and effects of mental illness.

The document doesn’t detail how Providence St. Joseph should do this, nor has either current organization commented on this provision. St. Joseph Health System Director Nisha Morris did offer this statement on the AG’s decision: “We are pleased the California attorney general has given us conditional consent to move forward with combining our systems. We’ll take time to review the conditions carefully and have more information to share soon.”

Morris declined to comment further. A call to a Providence spokesperson has not been returned.

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