By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Geisinger Health System hopes to close a merger agreement with Lewistown Hospital by the end of September.
“We’re very pleased and looking to close that transaction on Sept 30,” said Frank Trembulak, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Geisinger Health System, at the June 26 meeting of the Geisinger authority board.
All that’s left is for the attorney general to sign off on the closure, he said.
On June 20, the corporate membership of the Lewistown Hospital voted 216 to 17 to approve the merger.
Among the terms of the proposed merger agreement include Geisinger keeping Lewistown Hospital open as the region’s acute care center and keeping as much of the hospital’s staff members as possible at comparable rates and benefits.
Lewistown Hospital currently employs about 870 people, said Trembulak, with another 120 to 130 working in group practices, pharmacies and similar businesses associated to the hospital. While a small number may be displaced, they will be offered positions at other regional Geisinger sites, he said.
“Lewistown Hospital has a long history of providing excellent care for patients. Geisinger, as well, has had a long standing presence in the Lewistown market with our primary care offices, hospitalist program, cardiologists and gastroenterologist,” said Dr. Glenn Steele, Geisinger president and CEO, in a press release. “We look forward to building on that excellence to ensure the residents of Lewistown continue to have access to quality care, close to home.”
Geisinger aims to stabilize and grow Lewistown’s operations, said Trembulak, who noted that rising healthcare costs make it much harder for smaller, independent hospitals to survive. There are only a few freestanding hospitals left, he said, “and they probably won’t be freestanding five years from now.”
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