Three Holy Cross hospitals have been united under a new holding company - Holy Cross Health Services of Utah.

The health care corporation, which previously had included Holy Cross Hospital and Holy Cross Jordan Valley Hospital, recently expanded its network to include St. Benedict's Hospital in Ogden."The intent is to create an integrated health-care system with a singular focus of mission and identity and unified delivery and marketing of our services," said Kimbal L. Wheatly, vice president of the new holding company.

The sponsoring organizations of the hospitals are the Sisters of the Holy Cross and Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict.

A new, 10-member holding company board made up of area business leaders and sisters has been appointed to help achieve the goals of the organization. (The Holy Cross hospitals will retain their joint board of trustees; St. Benedicts also has a separate hospital board.)

Board member Douglas C. Black said the holding company will support all three hospitals in the delivery of health care.

"Those things that have made Holy Cross Hospital successful and St. Benedict's Hospital successful will stay the same; each has a unique personality, character and culture," he said. "These will not change. The new holding company will serve as a vehicle to draw on the strengths of each institution and enhance the efforts of each, particularly in the areas of managed care, marketing and strategic planning."

Black emphasized that "the day of the single-standing hospital is over; it just can't survive in today's competitive environment.

"Some hospitals in the Salt Lake area have had to link up with other institutions," he said. "As a nation we can't continue to have health care costs grow by 15 percent. By having a holding company which draws on the strengths of each other, we can help keep tabs on these escalating costs and help strengthen the individual institutions."

According to trustee Sister Mary Ellen Vaughan, the collaborative opportunities presented by the new holding company will complement both the Holy Cross and Benedictine missions to the community.

"As a Sister of the Holy Cross, I'm very enthusiastic and hopeful about the kind of collaboration that's already begun to happen between the two congregations," Sister Mary Ellen said. "Both have a strong sense of service to the people of Utah, particularly to the poor . . . .

"The Benedictines represent their commitment through the establishment of a priory and 40 years of service here, and the Sisters of the Holy Cross represent theirs through their 113-year presence in the area," she said.

Jack Klepinger, chairman of the St. Benedict's Hospital Board of Trustees and general manager of Wells Cargo's Ogden manufacturing plant, described the holding company as "an appropriate vehicle to further our health care services throughout the Wasatch Front."

"I see it providing a consolidation of resources, utilizing our dollars more efficiently and offering strategic direction for the Holy Cross Health Services of Utah regional network."

Klepinger said ultimately the holding company "will help St. Benedicts and the Holy Cross hospitals to examine our capacity to reposition ourselves as providers of health care and to enhance our planning for the future delivery of health care.

"Working together and living out our commitment to Catholic health care is really what this effort is all about."