Share This Page

UPMC to negotiate to take over Altoona Regional Health System

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

UPMC may be expanding farther east.

Western Pennsylvania's largest hospital system will enter negotiations to acquire Altoona Regional Health System, a 380-bed nonprofit hospital owner.

Altoona Regional Health System announced the plans in a statement on Wednesday, stating that it wants a partner that can provide money, expertise and technology to expand medical services.

“We are interested in a relationship that will enable Altoona Regional to further enhance its quality of care and breadth of medical services, while gaining new access to capital and outstanding technology, science, innovation and expertise,” CEO Jerry Murray said in a statement.

“While no final decisions have been made, this is the next logical step in the affiliation process,” Murray said.

UPMC won the right to enter the talks over health insurer Highmark Inc. and Geisinger Health System. All three had offered to acquire or partner with Altoona Regional in presentations to the health system's board over the past year.

Altoona Regional provided no timeline for when the negotiations on an acquisition agreement may be completed. No further details of a possible deal were available.

“UPMC has had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Altoona Regional Hospital and looks forward to further discussions,” spokesman Paul Wood said.

UPMC's health insurance subsidiary, UPMC Health Plan, provides coverage for Altoona Regional's nearly 4,000 employees.

UPMC owns 19 hospitals in Western Pennsylvania, including UPMC Hamot in Erie, UPMC Northwest in Seneca and UPMC Bedford, outside of Pittsburgh, and employs more than 3,300 physicians. It had $10 billion in revenue for the year ended June 30 and is the largest private employer in Pennsylvania, with 56,000 workers.

Highmark, the state's largest health insurance company, is creating a $1 billion health system to compete with UPMC. It has announced acquisition deals with West Penn Allegheny Health System, St. Vincent Health System in Erie and Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills.

Geisinger is an eight-hospital health system and health insurer based in Danville.

Altoona Regional has also been in discussions to partner with the 44-bed Nason Hospital in Altoona.

The health system had income from operations of $6.4 million for the 12 months ended June 30. In the prior year, the system lost $14.7 million from operations, according to financial statements.

It had long-term debt of $81.8 million and pension liability of $40 million as of Dec. 31.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.