Born from a merger, Spectrum becomes a major player in healthcare


The first acquisition of a community hospital was through United Memorial Health System in Greenville in 2003. Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont followed in 2010. As the health care industry continued to consolidate, community hospitals in Fremont Ludington, Zeeland, Big Rapids and Hastings and St. Joseph have all been part of Spectrum Health.

Spectrum Health has turned down other deals and potential suitors over the years, including “more than one” anonymous Detroit-area health care system that requested a merger, Breon said in 2018.

“We turned down several opportunities with other organizations – either to acquire, merge or whatever – because we were convinced we wanted to be based in western Michigan,” said Breon.

Tina Freese Decker, who has been with Spectrum Health since 2002 and previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, succeeded Breon as CEO following her retirement.

Other potential mergers were unsuccessful. Munson Healthcare, based in Traverse City, ended merger talks with Spectrum Health in 2010 to pursue other options.

Spectrum Health was also in talks with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in 2010, but those talks ended later in the year without a deal. However, the two organizations signed an agreement in 2018 to forge a “deeper relationship” and work together on research and coordination of patient care.

Over the past two decades, Spectrum Health has also invested heavily to develop new medical facilities and specialties, including initiating heart, lung and bone marrow transplants. Spectrum Health performed its first heart transplant in 2010. The idea behind launching each service was that patients in West Michigan who needed a transplant would no longer have to travel outside the region to health centers. destinations such as Chicago, Detroit or Ann Arbor.

Meanwhile, Spectrum has grown with hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in new facilities. The $ 80 million Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center opened on the campus of downtown Butterworth Hospital in 2004. Four years later, Spectrum opened the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, a cancer center. $ 78 million outpatient across the street. The new $ 286 million Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital followed on the Butterworth campus in 2011, built with $ 103 million in donations, including $ 50 million from the DeVos family.

Spectrum Health has also developed a number of integrated ambulatory care campuses in the region that have consolidated primary and specialist care physicians in local communities into one location and added services such as diagnostic laboratories and medical imaging.

As Spectrum Health has grown over the past two decades, so has its health plan.

Priority Health was born out of the 1992 merger of Butterworth HMO and Lakeshore HMO, based in the Netherlands. He then added NorthMed HMO based in Traverse City in 1999, expanding Priority Health to the northern Lower Peninsula. In 2007, Priority Health acquired the Care Choices HMO and PPO plans from Trinity Health to expand into the Southeast Michigan market.

In 2019, Priority Health further expanded its market presence in Southeast Michigan with the acquisition of Detroit-based HMO Total Health Care Inc.

Michigan’s second-largest health plan behind Blue Cross Blue Shield, Priority Health has over one million members enrolled in a variety of commercial, individual, Medicare and Medicaid plans.

Today, Spectrum Health includes 14 hospitals in Western Michigan, 150 ambulatory care sites, more than 31,000 employees, and 4,700 physicians and advanced practice providers. Spectrum Health owns a 93.9% stake in Priority Health. Munson Healthcare has a 5.5% stake and McLaren Northern Michigan, based in Petoskey, 0.6%.


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