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2017-07-28 / Front Page

Gaining ground

UPMC and Geisinger acquire locations at rapid pace in Central Pennsylvania
By Spencer Myers

In the past year, Central Pennsylvania has seen an incredible amount of activity from both UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) and Geisinger Health Network. Both major players in the healthcare industry have been claiming territories and creating borders in what sometimes feels akin to a game of Risk.

It began in October of last year when UPMC affiliated with Susquehanna Health, creating UPMC Susquehanna and adding four hospitals to the Pittsburgh-based healthcare network: Williamsport Regional Medical Center, Muncy Valley Hospital, Divine Providence Hospital and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital.

The move gave UPMC locations right next door to Geisinger, which is based in Danville.

In May 2017, Geisinger proceeded to create a clinical joint venture with insurance provider and hospital system Highmark Inc., who is in a kind of southwest Pennsylvania turf war with UPMC that has resulted in both companies refusing the other’s insurance at their facilities.

In a statement released with the announcement of the joint venture, Geisinger highlighted “the initial focus of the joint venture will include the development of an innovative, high-quality, affordable model of care featuring a network of community-based sites, including a comprehensive health campus in the Montoursville area.”

With Montoursville just down the road east from Williamsport, the move bolsters Geisinger’s presence in UPMC Susquehanna’s region, which already includes several specialty and urgent care locations throughout Lycoming and Clinton counties.

“The goal of this new facility will be to deliver important medical services and clinical capabilities in the local community that are complementary to the advanced tertiary services available at Geisinger Medical Center,” said Lynn Miller, Geisinger executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Clinical Enterprise. “We are currently assessing community needs and levels of appropriate investment to meet those needs.”

One week later, Geisinger integrated into their network Jersey Shore Hospital and Foundation, which is just down the road west from Williamsport.

“Everything we do is about caring, and we have a long history of caring for patients in north-central Pennsylvania,” said Geisinger President and Chief Executive Officer David Feinberg, M.D., MBA in a release. “Integrating Jersey Shore Hospital into our organization is part of our strategic growth plan to expand our long-standing commitment to patients and communities in this region.”

Designated as a Critical Access Hospital by the State of Pennsylvania and the Medicare program, the hospital is a good get for the network as they receive state assistance to provide care to underserved rural locations.

Geisinger has operated physician offices in Clinton County since 1986 and Lycoming County since 1994.

Three weeks later on June 7, UPMC Susquehanna announced that they would be further bolstering their presence in the area with the acquisition of both Lock Haven Hospital and Sunbury Community Hospital.

“We are excited to extend our tradition of high-quality, compassionate care to the Lock Haven and Sunbury communities,” said Steven P. Johnson, president of UPMC Susquehanna in a release. “Bringing these hospitals into our family allows us to reinvest in both facilities to improve access, enhance care, and grow existing services.”

The acquisition of Sunbury Hospital puts a UPMC location just 13 miles away from Geisinger’s headquarters in Danville.

Sunbury Community Hospital CEO Bob Williams noted in a release, “The employees of Sunbury Community Hospital are greatly looking forward to our new relationship with UPMC Susquehanna. This strong alliance allows us the ability to continue providing compassionate, patient-centered care built on the foundation of their excellent reputation for cutting-edge medicine with compassion and affordability.”

Most recently, UPMC Susquehanna announced the purchase of a three building retail plaza in McElhattan that had remained relatively vacant for years. Located between Lock Haven and Jersey Shore, the purchase will provide residence of Jersey Shore with more access to UPMC care.

Clinton County was understandably excited to sell the space to the healthcare provider.

Speaking on behalf of the Clinton County Commissioners, Robert “Pete” Smeltz, Jr. said, “We are so pleased UPMC Susquehanna purchased this plaza. With the strong reputation of UPMC, we know this will bring excellent specialty care services to us. We look forward to seeing improved quality, and with this type of growth, we know it will have a ripple effect on the economy to bring more jobs to the region as well.”

“We have always had a positive relationship with our neighbors in Clinton County,” said Ron Reynolds, vice president of Clinton County Operations, UPMC Susquehanna. “Today we commit to providing them with more health care services with the quality they have come to expect from UPMC Susquehanna. Above all, having a convenient location with ample parking already in place allows us to quickly reinvest to improve access, enhance care, and grow needed outpatient service for our patients.”

According to the release, UPMC will also “work with Lock Haven University to complete a county-wide community health needs assessment over the coming months. The results of the study will be used to help determine the types of services most needed to care for the region’s health and well-being. The goal is to involve other community partners to create a new destination for health and wellness services at the UPMC Susquehanna McElhattan location.” .

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