Providence Health & Services, Southern California, and SCL Health System have reached a definitive agreement for Providence to assume sponsorship of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, the organizations announced Sept. 16. The definitive agreement is the culmination of months-long discussions between the two Catholic not-for-profit healthcare groups to chart a sustainable future for Saint John’s Health Center in the era of comprehensive health reform.Providence will assume oversight of clinical programs and day-to-day operations of Saint John’s. In addition, the agreement reflects the parties’ mutual desire that Saint John’s continue its Catholic mission to provide compassionate health care to those in Santa Monica and surrounding West Side communities, especially the poor and vulnerable. “For decades, Saint John’s has stood for quality and compassionate care, as a leader in our industry, and is respected nationally,” said Michael Hunn, senior vice president and chief executive of Providence Southern California. “We are both humbled and honored that SCL Health chose Providence to continue this tradition of excellence and we look forward to working with the physicians, the staff, the foundation and the community to ensure that legacy is sustained.”“This agreement ensures Saint John’s is brought into the fold of one of the most advanced and connected health networks in Southern California, while retaining its Catholic identity,” said Michael Slubowski, president and chief executive officer of SCL Health System. “Providence’s commitment to Saint John’s will expand patient access to clinically excellent care delivered through a highly integrated physician network.”In June, SCL Health and Providence signed a non-binding letter of intent for the proposed sponsorship transfer. SCL Health decided to engage in exclusive discussions because of Providence’s expertise in managing Catholic hospitals and its extensive physician network in Southern California. Providence operates five acute care hospitals and an array of ancillary healthcare facilities across Los Angeles County.The definitive agreement is subject to customary regulatory approval as well as review and approval by the California attorney general. The transfer of canonical sponsorship to Providence Ministries is subject to approval by Archbishop José Gomez and the Holy See. Providence Health & Services, Southern California, operates five acute-care medical centers in the Los Angeles area: Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Providence Tarzana Medical Center, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers in Torrance and San Pedro. The region’s ancillary facilities include hospice and long-term care, outpatient clinics, Providence Medical Institute, Providence High School and an affiliation with Facey Medical Group.SCL Health System operates nine hospitals, four safety net clinics, one children’s mental health treatment center and more than 190 ambulatory service centers in California, Colorado, Kansas and Montana. SCL Health was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, who opened their first hospital in 1864. Saint John’s in Santa Monica opened Oct. 25, 1942.