June 21, 2024
Washington Health System, UPMC merger now official | News, Sports, Jobs

Washington Health System, UPMC merger now official | News, Sports, Jobs

A NEW ERA — A worker changes the signage at Washington Health System’s main campus to reflect its new affiliation with UPMC.

WASHINGTON, Pa. — Washington Health System has announced that it has officially merged with UPMC, becoming UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene.

The announcement comes on the heels of Pennsylvania’s attorney general greenlighting the merger after addressing concerns about the transaction’s potential impact on patients, staff and the community.

According to the agreement, the hospitals must negotiate with any willing health insurance plans, and commit to a single, last best offer arbitration, to resolve any disputed contract terms.

In a release, Brook Ward, president of UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene, said the affiliation “protects the vitality of an essential community asset and solidifies a healthy future for Washington and Greene counties for generations to come.”

Plans for the merger were announced in June 2023, with UPMC committing to invest at least $300 million during a 10-year period to enhance clinical services and upgrade facilities at both of the local hospitals.

After news of the merger’s finalization broke June 1, a spokesman for the union representing workers at WHS said they remain cautious.

Dave Bates, spokesman for SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said that UPMC has closed down community hospitals, cut services, laid off thousands of health care workers and slashed wages.

“These are just some of the reasons the frontline health care workers at Washington Hospital are very skeptical,” said Bates.

Bates pointed out that while the agreement has important protections, it does not guarantee facilities will remain open, or that no jobs or services will be cut.

“We are united to hold UPMC accountable to abide by the agreement as well as honor the promises that have been made to our community to invest $300 million and maintain all services, insurance plan access, jobs and union contract standards,” he said.

Leslie C. Davis, president and CEO of UPMC, said the system has “a long, successful track record of affiliations with like-minded organizations.”

“We know how essential these hospitals are to this region to preserve needed health care services and livelihoods of thousands touched by them, and we are thrilled to welcome UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene to UPMC,” she said in a release announcing the finalization of the merger.

SEIU representatives said they won’t have to wait long to see if UPMC’s promises ring true as the union heads into contract negotiations at the end of the year.

“We expect UPMC to recognize our union, respect our contract and engage in good faith negotiations. We are 100% determined to win a strong contract and continue advocating for quality care and good jobs with a voice at Washington Health,” a Union representative said.

According to the announcement, UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene will maintain a local board consisting of 11 legacy WHS board members and five newly appointed members from UPMC.

The affiliation will not affect community members’ in-network access to WHS hospitals or doctors, according to the release, and UPMC Washington, UPMC Greene and their affiliated outpatient facilities will continue to honor the contracts that are in place with regional and national insurers.

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