Columbia St. Mary and Froedtert & Community Health’s partnership is now on hold due to economic conditions.

Both health care systems made the announcement earlier this month that the plan to enter into a joint operating agreement was on hold, although they still hope to eventually complete the partnership first announced in the spring of 2007.

Federal regulators have approved the partnership, which would include five hospitals.

The systems believe their current focus should be on managing the current economic crisis rather than merging operations.

Froedtert & Community Health lost $37 million in the first nine months of the year, down from a profit of $80 million the previous year due in large part to investment losses. Columbia St. Mary’s net income is down due in part to investment losses and increases in bad debt.

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