CHICAGO (AP) – Officials for two Chicago area hospital systems say they’ve signed an agreement to merge, paving the way to create Illinois’ largest Catholic-owned health care system.

The deal between Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care and Provena Health in Mokena was announced Tuesday and follows months of talks.

Both systems have submitted an application to state health officials. Approval could come this year.

Resurrection operates six hospitals in the Chicago area. Provena owns six hospitals statewide. The combined system would have nearly $3 billion in operating revenue.

Resurrection Health Care chief executive officer Sandra Bruce says both systems create a bolder vision of healthcare.

Provena Health chief Guy Wiebking says the merger will better serve communities.

The new system would include 28 long-term care and senior residential facilities and six home health agencies.

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