LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s health system, has agreed to buy Sparrow Health System.

Sparrow and U of M Health will hold a press conference on Friday to formally announce the decision.

Sparrow said the proposed agreement will ‘expand services to mid-Michigan residents, provide access to the highest level of care, improve facilities and technology, and begin a new chapter in Sparrow’s storied history.’

According to the release, the deal was approved in a U of M Board of Regents meeting on Dec. 8 and the Sparrow Board of Directors approved it on Nov. 28.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023.

“The partnership with University of Michigan Health provides Sparrow the opportunity to take a greater leadership role in improving the health of the communities we serve,” said Sparrow Health System President and CEO James F. Dover. 

The University of Michigan and Sparrow Health System are not strangers when it comes to partnerships. Back in 2019 they came together to develop the Sparrow Children’s Center.

Thursday’s announcement is the culmination of a year’s worth of work to add Sparrow locations to the wider U of M health network.

“So we believe all health care is local. But this gives us now the ability to expand beyond just our locality,” said Dover.

Dover says a proposed agreement with University of Michigan Health will open the door to further specialty care.

He says the deal brings further funding with U of M health pledging $800 million going into Sparrow over the next eight years.

Dover said while current governing members and staff will stay, the real change will be felt by patients.

“We are now joining what we will believe will be the top health system in the state of Michigan. These are two Michigan-born and raised health systems. University of Michigan and Sparrow with Sparrow going back 126 years,” said Dover.

The proposed agreement follows a year of big acquisitions and mergers. Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health merged in February to form Corewell Health.

Fredrick Morgeson is a business management professor at Michigan State University and said many industries are compressing, which can mean combining resources like beds and health care workers.

“Now there are real downsides to getting big. More bureaucracy, slower decision-making. But specifically in the healthcare space, we’ve had that other gigantic merger in the state of Michigan. You see this around the country, it’s a race to get bigger,” said Morgeson.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2023. As technical and culture changes trickle down, Morgeson said clarity is key as new employees join the pool.

“Over-communicate, explain what’s happening share as much information as you can,” said Morgeson.

The Sparrow nursing union, which is formally known as the Professional Employee Council at Sparrow Hospital, told 6 News they learned of the planned affiliation agreement with Michigan Medicine on Thursday and will be seeking more information.

“We are hopeful that this will lead to a renewed investment in frontline patient care that will benefit nurses, healthcare professionals, and our community,” the group said.

Sparrow says it has more than 115 sites of care across mid-Michigan and is one of the biggest health systems in the state.

According to statistics on their website, the health system performs 23,000 surgeries a year, sees 90,000 urgent care and walk-in care visits a year, and has 9,000 caregivers.

Unsurprisingly, Michigan Medicine boasts even bigger statistics. In the fiscal year of 2022, the health system performed 56,260 surgeries and saw 2,640,967 patient clinical visits.

6 News is working to learn more about the deal and will continue to update this story as we learn more.