Joining forces

Warren General Hospital announces partnership with Allegheny Health, LECOM

Warren General Hospital CEO Rick Allen (right) announces a partnership involving Warren General Hospital, Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network, and LECOM Health at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Pictured are (from left): Highmark Health Executive Vice President Mike Bennett, LECOM Health Vice President Jasen Diley, St. Vincent Hospital President Dr. Chris Clark, Warren General Medical Staff President Dr. Mason Tootell, and Allen. Not pictured is Warren General Hospital Board President Carmen Ferranto.

Warren General Hospital has entered into an affiliation with Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network, and LECOM Health.

The hospital maintains local control but adds valuable partners in providing care in the community, according to CEO Rick Allen. The details will be finalized over the next month and the agreement will formally go into effect in 2018.

“We are focused on delivering high-quality care and we believe today’s announcement will support us, will help us to do so,” Allen said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “A few days ago, the board authorized, unanimously, to enter into an agreement with Highmark Health and LECOM Health to effect a partnership agreement of a minimum of 10 years but we think for a much, much longer time.”

“That agreement is part of a collaboration which will strengthen and expand the quality of care, access to care, physician services, clinical services offered here locally in Warren and at Warren General Hospital,” he said.

“This is not an acquisition,” he said. “It is not a takeover of the assets or majority control of this organization. Our board retains majority control. Our board structure will be one of majority control.”

The Warren General board of directors considered affiliation possibilities for seven months before coming to the agreement with Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network, and LECOM Health, Allen said.

“The possibilities are tremendous,” Board President Carmen Ferranto said. “For the board, the single most important thing was local control. For the immediate future — five to 10 years, we want to maintain local control.”

Outside of that time frame, the needs of the hospital and the community are difficult to predict, he said.

“We need strategic partners,” he said. “We wanted to be sure our strategic partners shared our values.”

“We believe this partnership, these organizations, share our culture, they share our values of addressing the needs of patients throughout this region and caring for those patients here locally in Warren,” Allen said.

“It’s an infusion of capital,” Allen said. “It’s an effort to work collaboratively.”

“Highmark Health, Highmark Inc. and Allegheny Health Network have been committed for years to providing local access to high-quality, affordable care for millions of members and patients in our footprint,” Executive Vice President Mike Bennett said. “To us that means that the right care is provided at the right cost in the right place and increasingly with the right partners.”

“Independent community hospitals are critical components of a value-based health care system,” Bennett said. “We believe that by coming together we’ll be able to preserve the local access to health care that this community deserves and make sure that we can provide high-value services into the future.”

“At Allegheny Health Network, we see an incredible opportunity in working with LECOM Health and Warren General to further reinvent health care around value and establish a competitive regional network,” St. Vincent Hospital President Dr. Chris Clark said. “Allegheny Health Network works with more than 30 hospitals in Pennsylvania — providing staffing for the emergency room, specialists, cancer care, and other clinical expertise, whatever the needs are for the particular communities — in efforts to try to keep care local and help hospitals like Warren General maintain their independence.”

“Warren General and St. Vincent hospitals have a great working relationship,” Clark said. “That relationship will only be fortified and enhanced through today’s announced agreement.”

“In Warren General Hospital and in Highmark Health, we have found ideal partners who share our belief in the importance of keeping care local,” LECOM Health Vice President Jasen Diley said. “We believe in keeping the best interest of the patients and their families at the very center of the decisions that we make.”

“An important aspect in the mission of LECOM Health is to prepare the next generation of physicians, dentists, and pharmacists,” Diley said. “We do that through instruction at our educational campuses… we also do that through our clinical residency programs at various hospitals and campuses.

Warren General will be one of those.

“Warren General Hospital will become a clinical site for LECOM students, medical students, third- and fourth-year, residents coming out of a LECOM program,” Allen said. “We’re very excited about that opportunity.”

Doctors from the Highmark and Allegheny systems will work in emergency and hospitalist positions in Warren.

“Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network will become an important resource for Warren General Hospital providing staffing for our emergency department and our hospitalist program,” he said.

The agreement is not the first between Warren General and Allegheny Health.

“A couple of years ago, Warren General entered into an agreement with Allegheny Health Network St. Vincent Hospital for collaboration on our OB/GYN care,” Allen said. “That effort has resulted in a number of physicians joining our practices and caring for patients here in Warren, delivering those children up on our maternal and child health unit.”

“It’s been a great experience so far,” he said. “We will continue to capitalize on that opportunity and in fact expand very shortly into our behavioral health and psychiatric services.”

“We’re very excited to enter into this partnership which will facilitate further advances in clinical care and quality care,” Allen said. “It is an exciting day… as we usher in a new era of improving the clinical quality and care for the residents of Warren County.”