Trib editorial: AHN Hempfield provides more options, but at what price?
The provision of medical care in Westmoreland County is entering a new era, just as it did years ago when independently operated hospitals in Greensburg and Latrobe consolidated under the Excela Health banner. Except now it's Excela Health's market share that's being eyed, if not challenged, by Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health.
As part of the health system's $700 million expansion, AHN unveiled plans Monday for a 10-bed, for-profit community hospital in Hempfield — about two miles from Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. Excela President and CEO Bob Rogalski called AHN's move “predatory.” AHN President and CEO Cynthia Hundorfean said there's enough “business to accommodate everyone.”
This, after AHN and Highmark opened a new, 23,000-square-foot outpatient center east of the Westmoreland Mall and a few miles away from the 115,000-square-foot Excela Square At Latrobe outpatient health-care center.
At that time, Jim Jordan, a health-care professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, remarked, “The strongest argument to be excited (about) for Westmoreland is that competition between two organizations for patients will create incentives to provide innovative services to attract patients or clients.”
Access to more health care options is fine. Our concern is how the addition of these new facilities, in close proximity to each other, along with existing walk-in clinics in Westmoreland County, will ultimately affect the cost of patient care.