PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Carle Health has signed a strategic affiliation agreement with UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois and UnityPoint Health to replace UnityPoint Health as the parent organization of the Central Illinois hospital systems.

UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois includes Methodist, Proctor, and Pekin hospitals, affiliated clinics, UnityPlace, and Methodist College.

“We are thrilled about this opportunity to engage with more individuals and families from our Central Illinois communities to help them achieve their best health,” said James C. Leonard, MD, president and CEO of Carle Health. “As we work to earn the status of trusted healthcare partner in the greater Peoria region, we will leverage best practices of both teams to enhance the patient experience and bring innovation and individualized care for years to come.”  

According to a press release sent Tuesday, Carle and UnityPoint Health will be working together to provide a broader spectrum of services to Central Illinois, including medical, behavioral health, and addiction recovery services.

“This strategic partnership is an opportunity to improve the delivery of care for the people of central Illinois,” said Clay Holderman, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health. “We look forward to collaborating with Carle Health on ways to advance our shared missions and create clear value for our teams, patients, and the community at large.”

The merger of these companies will increase the number of health care providers available in the Peoria area, and allow patients to have access to a larger network of services.

“This is about efficiency. It’s a little about geography in terms of closeness and just opportunities to become more efficient and explore things as we move forward,” said Leonard.

The press release also states that this partnership will help develop the Central Illinois workforce by creating new jobs and investing in their current employees.

“I can tell you that all of our organizations don’t have enough employees today. We’re facing significant work force shortages in many areas and we need all of our team members. So we’re confident that will have a place for everyone going forward,” said Dr. Keith Knepp, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois.

There will be no change to patient insurance coverage and Knepp said they will assess the wage and benefit structure for employees.

The agreement is set to close on April 1, 2023.