Trustees take step toward forming integrated, countywide health system
ALTOONA – The Altoona Regional Health System and Nason Hospital has announced that their boards of directors approved and signed a memorandum of understanding to negotiate, discuss and develop an integrated, countywide health system to serve the communities of Blair County and the greater region.
This non-binding agreement, which follows a nine-month process of exploring potential options for better coordinating health care services in Blair County to meet the challenges of the changing health care environment, authorizes Altoona Regional and Nason Hospital to move forward with necessary steps to form a countywide health system. Following successful completion of due diligence and any regulatory approvals, the parties would enter into definitive agreements. Details for a partnership will be determined through the next phase of discussions.
“After lengthy consideration, the Nason board unanimously determined that a partnership with Altoona Regional Health System has the potential to bring additional operational resources to the county that could enhance our joint ability to grow and provide needed services for our patients,” said Steve Martz, board chair for Nason Hospital. “We are very excited about the tremendous benefits this proposed partnership offers our region.”
In addition to allowing due diligence and detailed negotiations to begin, the Memorandum of Understanding outlines the criteria developed by representatives from both boards and medical staffs, including the creation of a fully integrated health care system for Blair County and the surrounding region and increasing access to, and quality of, identified needs and services.
“It is important to refocus the health care resources in Blair County from a hospital-centered model to an integrated health care delivery model with tighter care coordination and cost reduction among all providers in order to meet the requirements of health reform and protect and improve access to needed health care services in the county,” said Rob Halbritter, board chair for Altoona Regional.
“Creation of this new countywide system would provide the foundation for improving health care for residents of the county and the surrounding region.”
The countywide health care system will gain economies of scale, depth and expertise in various areas, assistance with physician recruiting, and a host of other capabilities. The due diligence and negotiation process is projected to take at least until the end of the year. Nason Hospital and Altoona Regional will continue to provide information as appropriate to employees, physicians and the community about the proposed countywide system.