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Conemaugh Health System announces partnership with Tennessee-based company

By: Marc Stempka

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- Conemaugh Health System, Cambria County and Johnstown's largest health care provider, have announced a partnership with Duke LifePoint Healthcare, based in Tennessee.

Officials said at a Friday morning news conference that the Conemaugh board of directors signed a letter of intent for the acquisition of the health system to Duke LifePoint. Additionally, Duke LifePoint committed to investing more than a half billion dollars over the next 10 years to the region.

Officials from both sides said the partnership will keep Conemaugh's ability to thrive for decades. The acquisition will include Conemaugh's three hospitals, Memorial Medical Center, Miners Medical Center and Meyersdale Medical Center, and outpatient centers and physician group practices.

"Today's announcement marks a banner day for our community," said Ron Vickroy, chairman of the Conemaugh Health System board of directors. "Through a thoughtful, deliberate exploration process, our board's goal was to find a partner that would strengthen quality and access to care, as well as bring substantial investment and resources to our community. We believe that Duke LifePoint is the perfect fit, and we are thrilled to move forward together."

Conemaugh officials said they spent months reviewing the hospital's current strengths and operations, while keeping in mind future health care needs for the region. Following the officials reviews, it was decided that Conemaugh would be stronger if it partnered with another organization.

Looking at the future and strategic planning, Conemaugh officials said that because of health care system challenges like growing capital needs, reimbursement cuts and changing patient volumes, it was decided that a partnership was needed for long-term success.

According to the Duke LifePoint website, LifePoint partnered with Duke University Health System to create a joint venture with an interest in collaborating with hospitals, physicians and patients to bring increased health care quality to communities.

"Duke LifePoint Healthcare pursues acquisitions and shared ownership and governance of community hospitals that are looking to become part of a stable, outcomes-focused, well-funded system," the company description said.

"By doing this now, while we are financially strong, we are taking our future into our own hands and creating a stronger health system for our region," Vickroy said.

Duke LifePoint Healthcare based outside of Nashville, in Brentwood, currently includes 60 hospitals in 20 states. The LifePoint Hospitals group was founded in 1999 and has grown to a $3.5 billion company with 28,000 employees and 3,000 physician partners.

"Were honored to be selected as Conemaugh's health care partner," said William F. Carpenter III, chairman and chief executive officer of LifePoint Hospitals. "Conemaugh is an excellent health system with unwavering commitment to its patients, employees and physicians. We look forward to exploring this potential partnership and working with Conemaugh to further strengthen and advance health care throughout this region."

 
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