CHICAGO — A union between St. Louis-based Ascension Health and Arlington Heights, Ill.-based Alexian Brothers Health System advanced Thursday with the announcement that the two had signed a definitive agreement for Alexian’s acquisition by nation’s largest nonprofit health care system.

“This partnership will help to provide us with the resources needed to grow as health care changes,” Mark Frey, ABHS’s executive vice president, said in a statement. The union now advances to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Board, which holds sway over transactions involving the state’s hospitals. Federal regulatory approval is also needed.

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