An internal email suggests the University of Arizona Health Network is considering an affiliation with Phoenix-based Banner Health.

A screenshot capture of the email, which was provided to the Star, says there will be a UA Department of Medicine meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 19, to discuss “possible alignment with Banner Health.” The email came from the office of UA Department of Medicine chair Dr. Thomas D. Boyer.

Asked for comment, UA Health Network spokeswoman Katie Riley wrote in an email to the Star Thursday that the network is in “ongoing discussions with numerous health systems, including Banner.”

Riley wrote that the discussions are to “explore opportunities for synergy and collaboration, particularly in areas where collaboration would enhance our missions of patient care, research and medical education.”

A recent financial report shows that the UA Health Network, the largest health entity in Southern Arizona, is experiencing unprecedented operating losses — $28.5 million for the first eight months of the current fiscal year.

Banner Health, Arizona’s largest health system, would not comment specifically Thursday, but issued a general statement that many health systems and hospitals have asked it to engage in discussions about forming an affiliation or becoming part of Banner.

Banner operates 16 Arizona hospitals. Its most recent acquisition, which became official Monday, was of the Banner Casa Grande Medical Center in Pinal County.

The non-profit company does not operate any hospitals south of Casa Grande.

It is unclear how an acquisition by Banner would affect the UA Health Network’s academic affiliation.

The nonprofit UA Health Network was created in 2010 through a merger between University Medical Center Corp. and University Physicians Healthcare.

It is separate from the UA, but the two work in close partnership and the network’s hospitals are staffed with physicians from the UA College of Medicine.

The $1.2 billion UA Health Network includes two teaching hospitals, the UA Medical Center-University campus at 1501 N. Campbell Ave., and the UA Medical Center-South at 2800 E. Ajo Way.

Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at or 573-4134.