UAB Health System, Ascension St. Vincent’s formalize strategic alliance for better health

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System and Ascension St. Vincent’s have entered into a strategic alliance that will increase access to high-quality, innovative medical care through multiple outlets and health programs.

In January, the health systems announced their intention to form a strategic alliance and began a period of due diligence. The formal alliance began July 1, 2020.

Having received necessary approvals, including that of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees and the Ascension Board of Directors, the new strategic alliance will enable the two entities, which have a long history of collaboration, to further enhance patient care and address Alabama’s most challenging health threats. The strength of the collaboration between the two health systems has been on display throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, says Jason Alexander, CEO of Ascension St. Vincent’s and senior vice president of Ascension.

“Our ability to coordinate our efforts in response to COVID-19 benefited each organization and the patients and communities we serve,” Alexander said. “Ascension St. Vincent’s was able to leverage our network to obtain personal protective equipment that was urgently needed by both systems but in short supply, and UAB has accepted the majority of the volume of COVID-positive patients. This alliance will now allow us to be able to collaborate even more.”

UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany says, now that the alliance is formalized, he looks forward to working with Alexander and the Alliance Board to ensure the alliance is a win-win for patients, the community and both organizations.

“We have a great opportunity to improve health care delivery in Alabama for our patients and communities, and doing so will make each organization stronger,” Ferniany said. “Our physicians, staff and leadership are now better positioned to deliver on our community service-focused missions.”

Ferniany and Alexander serve as the administrative leaders of the alliance — Ferniany as CEO/president and Alexander as executive vice president — with coordinated governance and administrative responsibilities. Both say that efficiencies created by the alliance will also strengthen each organization both clinically and financially.

Though the two entities will share resources to better serve the community, they will maintain separate, yet aligned, operational structures. For example, the medical staffs will remain independent at each system. Medical staff privileges to work within each system would be obtained separately. The historic missions of the organizations will be preserved. Ascension St. Vincent’s remains a ministry of the Catholic Church, and UABHS remains an academic medical center with public, charitable and research functions.

The alliance will utilize innovative strategies to address health disparities, mental and behavioral health, and diabetes, with an emphasis on expanded access for poor, vulnerable and rural populations.

UABHS and Ascension St. Vincent’s leaders say the new alliance enhances their longstanding relationship and affirms each organization’s ability to help patients receive the right care in the right setting at the right time.

“As health care continues to evolve, it is important for health systems to work with each other to provide innovative, person-centered care,” Ferniany said. “It has always been our shared commitment with Ascension St. Vincent’s to remain on the forefront of this vital health care transformation.”

UABHS facilities will retain the UABHS or UAB Medicine brands. Ascension St. Vincent’s facilities will continue to be branded as Ascension St. Vincent’s.

Entities in the alliance include:


  • UAB Hospital
  • University of Alabama Health Services Foundation
  • Medical West Hospital
  • Callahan Eye Hospital, Clinics and Ophthalmology Services Foundation
  • Gardendale Freestanding Emergency Department (FED) and Clinics
  • Highway 150 Clinics and Medical West Freestanding Emergency Department
  • Acton Road
  • Primary and Urgent Care Network

Ascension St. Vincent’s:

  • St. Vincent’s Birmingham
  • St. Vincent’s East
  • St. Vincent’s One Nineteen
  • St. Vincent’s St. Clair
  • St. Vincent’s Chilton
  • St. Vincent’s Blount
  • St. Vincent’s Trussville
  • Ascension Medical Group Practices (including St. Vincent’s Primary Care Network)
  • St. Vincent’s Urgent Care

While the Cooper Green Authority initiative is not part of the alliance, operations will be coordinated to enhance services for Cooper Green patients.

The Board of Directors of the Alliance includes leaders and representatives from both UAB and Ascension:The Board of Directors of the Alliance includes leaders and representatives from both UAB and Ascension:

  • Joseph Cacchione, M.D. (Ascension)
  • Scott Caldwell (Ascension)
  • Craig Cordola (Ascension)
  • Lisa Davis (Ascension)
  • John H. England Jr. (UAB)
  • Finis St. John IV (UAB)
  • Kenneth Vandervoort, M.D. (UAB)
  • Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D. (UAB)
  • Ray L. Watts, M.D. – Chair (UAB)

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