UPMC has entered into negotiations with a Blair County health system for a possible affiliation agreement. Altoona Regional Health System has been exploring affiliation options for nearly a year, UPMC beat out other large health systems, including Highmark for the right to negotiate.
“Now, the discussions get down to more specifics about what an affiliation would look like, and we’re not putting any timelines on this, so we’re not sure when the next step will be,” said Altoona Regional Spokesman Dave Cuzzolina.
An affiliation is needed, said Cuzzolina, because of challenges and financial pressures facing health care that are not going away, especially for mid-sized and smaller-sized hospitals, which may have no choice but to enter affiliation agreements to stay afloat. He said the ultimate goal is to ensure Altoona Regional remains a strong community resources and medical hub.
“We want a partner who’s going to expand and enhance those medical services and grow employment and grow revenues,” added Cuzzolina, “the preliminary discussions we’ve had indicate UPMC is the partner who can help us make that happen, and now we’re going to take a more detailed look.”
Altoona Regional is an 8-year-old system that was created by a merger of two smaller hospitals – Altoona Hospital and Bon Secours Holy Family Hospital, some 2,500 people work for Altoona Regional. UPMC is western Pennsylvania’s largest hospital system and employs more than 55,000 people.
UPMC isn’t commenting on specifics of discussions, but Spokesman Paul Wood said, “UPMC has had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Altoona Regional Hospital and looks forward to further discussions.”