PITTSBURGH, May 27, 1998 — Horizon Health System and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center today announced plans to merge the two institutions to form UPMC Horizon, significantly enhancing the level of service and care available to the people of the Mercer County region. UPMC Horizon will continue to operate as a separate locally governed entity within University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Horizon’s board of trustees voted overwhelmingly to approve a merger at its meeting yesterday. The merger is expected to be completed by mid-summer.
At a press conference today, J. Larry Heinike, president and CEO of Horizon, and John Paul, executive vice president and chief operating officer of UPMC, signed a letter of intent to merge the two healthcare organizations.
"This truly is a historic day for Horizon and for Mercer County," said Mr. Heinike. "Horizon, as the leading healthcare provider in Mercer County, has taken a bold step. This step assures that the residents of our area will continue to receive the excellent care for which Horizon is already known, as well as new programs, new services and improved facilities," Mr. Heinike said.
"In today’s environment of managed care and intense competitiveness, it is essential that community hospitals like Horizon marshal forces with the best and strongest providers, while maintaining their independence in the community," said Gerald Hodge, chairman of Horizon’s board of trustees.
"UPMC is unrivaled in our state and a hospital of national repute. Accordingly, it is committed to making Horizon the undisputed healthcare leader in Mercer County for many years to come. We could not ask for a better partner in our efforts to maintain and enhance the outstanding service we already provide. This is truly a ‘win/win’ for our community," Mr. Hodge said.
"This decision of Horizon Health System’s board of directors reflects foresight and commitment to the community," stated Mr. Paul.
"We welcome this fine organization into our network. By combining our resources and building on our individual strengths, we can ensure that the citizens of Mercer County will have access to the best and most advanced primary and specialty care services available," continued Mr. Paul.
Horizon Hospital System, a six-year old institution that resulted from the merger of Greenville Regional Hospital and Shenango Valley Medical Center, employs over 1,300 staff members at its two facilities and includes over 240 physicians on the medical staff. According to Mr. Heinike, the expectation is that this partnership with UPMC will mean expanded opportunities for employees and physicians.
As a result of the partnership, UPMC plans to invest significant resources in Horizon and the Mercer County region. This investment would result in the continued expansion of services, programs and facilities at Horizon that began two years ago, when UPMC and Horizon signed an affiliation agreement.
That affiliation has already resulted in several significant enhancements to Horizon’s services, including the on-site presence of STAT MedEvac emergency helicopter, expanded emergency services, membership in the prestigious Center for Emergency Medicine, and creation of the Center for Rural Emergency Medicine.
Other enhancements include teleradiology, which benefits local physicians by making available immediate consultations with leading specialists at UPMC, and an expanded continuing medical education program for area physicians. In addition, with the assistance of UPMC, Horizon has been able to offer local access to specialists in the fields of rheumatology, neurosurgery, neurology, and genetic counseling.
Perhaps most significantly, the affiliation with UPMC has enabled Horizon to acquire a state-of-the-art information system at a savings of several million dollars.
Mr. Paul stated that high quality community hospitals, like those of Horizon Health System, are the heart of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
"Everyone wants to receive treatment close to home in familiar surroundings. By enhancing the services available in community hospitals, this convenience is not only possible, it is cost-effective," Mr. Paul said.
As a result of the merger, UPMC would provide Horizon with increased expertise and service capacity in such areas as research, technology and the most sophisticated medical treatment. UPMC is ranked among the top 15 academic medical centers in the nation in terms of federal research funding and is particularly recognized for its pioneering work in organ transplants, cardiology and cancer care.
In merging with UPMC, Horizon joins a network of 15 other hospitals throughout Pennsylvania.
Under the terms of the merger, Horizon would retain its local governing body, with one-third appointed by UPMC. The local board would continue to direct Horizon’s activities and manage it as a community institution. Further, Horizon would have a voice in the administration of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center with representation on both University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s board and on its executive committee.