MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula’s largest hospital may soon be acquired by a joint venture of North Carolina’s Duke University Health System Inc. and the Tennessee-based for-profit hospital operator LifePoint Hospitals Inc.

The board of trustees of Marquette General Health System said Tuesday that it had signed a “memorandum of understanding,” a non-binding agreement that allows Marquette General and Duke LifePoint to move forward with due diligence and other steps to pursue an acquisition of MGHS by Duke LifePoint.

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“The acquisition by Duke LifePoint is a historic opportunity for Marquette General and the Upper Peninsula,” said Brad Cory, chair of the Marquette General Health System board. “As part of Duke LifePoint, we will have the ability to improve the quality of healthcare in the Upper Peninsula, strengthen Marquette General financially and expand our role in the region, working with other Upper Peninsula hospitals.”

Over the next two to four months, Marquette General and Duke LifePoint will examine all aspects of the proposed acquisition and negotiate a definitive agreement. Once definitive agreement is reached, the transaction will be subject to various government approvals, including a thorough review process by the Michigan Attorney General.

“Our board carefully reviewed strategic options with organizations from across the country, and Duke LifePoint is clearly the best match for Marquette General and the communities we serve,” said Judy Watson-Olson, vice chair of the MGHS Board. “Duke LifePoint’s team shares our dedication to quality healthcare in this region and commitment to our patients, employees and physicians. Together, we will be able to ensure that Marquette General is here caring for and serving our community for generations to come.”

LifePoint manages 54 community-based hospitals across the country. Marquette General will become the fourth hospital in the Duke LifePoint partnership and the first in Michigan.

Duke LifePoint’s acquisition proposal includes significant financial commitments to enhance the quality of care and patient safety and expand service lines to better serve patients throughout the Upper Peninsula. Investments will be made in major capital improvements, including construction of a new outpatient surgery center, comprehensive cancer center, private patient rooms, new technology and new IT infrastructure. The proposal also includes investments to boost physician recruitment.

Resources from the transaction will be available to meet the hospital’s pension obligations and provide funding for foundation grants to support community-based health care organizations and initiatives. In addition, Duke LifePoint shares a fundamental commitment to the MGHS workforce and to continuation of MGHS’s historical provision of charity care.

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“We are committed to making sure that Marquette General continues to be the place you trust for healthcare in the Upper Peninsula and beyond,” said Cory. “The hospital will continue to operate the Level II Trauma Center, our leading Oncology Center with its recently acquired Linear Accelerator and CT Simulator, and the only neo-natal intensive care center in the region. And Marquette General will continue to be one of the top cardio hospitals in the country.”

As part of the proposed Duke LifePoint acquisition, the Marquette community will receive an economic boost from the construction of new facilities, spending at local businesses and municipal tax payments.

“Duke LifePoint is building a strong system of quality-driven hospitals and providers that are well positioned for success,” said LifePoint Chairman and CEO William F. Carpenter III. “Duke LifePoint and Marquette General have a great opportunity to capitalize on each organization’s innovative approach to integrated delivery of quality healthcare in this region. Together, we will broaden the clinical services available here and advance our shared dedication to clinical quality and patient safety.”

Added Gary Muller, president and CEO of Marquette General: “As part of Duke LifePoint, we will be able to create new opportunities and new jobs for doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals in the Upper Peninsula. We will have new centers of excellence at Marquette General, new and expanded service lines, and mentoring and training programs for our staff to improve patient care.”

Further information on the proposed relationship with Duke LifePoint will be available on the Marquette General web site at

Marquette General is a federally designated Regional Referral Center. It is the regional medical center for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and beyond. Marquette General is the region’s Level II Trauma Center and a Thomson Reuters’ Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospital. Marquette General receives patients from throughout Upper Michigan and provides care in 65 specialties and subspecialties. Its medical staff of more than 200 doctors works as a team with 2,400 employees in caring for approximately 12,000 inpatients and more than 350,000 outpatients a year. For additional information, visit

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For more on Duke LifePoint Healthcare, visit