By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
DANVILLE — The Altoona Regional Health System turned down an acquisition offer from Geisinger Health System, instead pursuing negotiations with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Geisinger Health System was one of three healthcare providers that offered to acquire or partner with Altoona Regional during presentations to the health system’s board over the past year, said Geisinger spokesman Mike Ferlazzo. The other bidder was insurance company Highmark.
The latest presentation was at the end of October. All three made presentations to the board, and the members made their decision based on those presentations, he said.
Geisinger officials felt they had a lot to offer the Altoona area, he said, but they understand and honor the decision.
Ferlazzo did not say whether Geisinger has plans for expansion in the Altoona area.
He said Geisinger continues to look at partnering with healthcare organizations that demonstrate excellence in quality initiatives and patient safety and that have similar cultures and value systems.
Geisinger is the nation’s largest rural health service organization and serves more than 2.6 million residents in 44 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
It has locations in Danville, Wilkes-Barre, Bloomsburg, Coal Township, Scranton and State College. Its most recent acquisition was the Bloomsburg Health System in July.
Altoona announced negotiations in a Nov. 21 press release on its website, www.altoonaregional.org.
“We are interested in a relationship that will enable Altoona Regional to further enhance its quality of care and breadth of medical services,” Jerry Murray, president and CEO, said.
“While no final decisions have been made, this is the next logical step in the affiliation process,” he said. “We will continue to work toward an affiliation that is in the best interests of the patients and communities we serve.”