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Susquehanna Health becomes part of UPMC; $500 million investment announced

WILLIAM SPORT — A four-hospital health system in northcentral Pennsylvania is now part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center family.

The board of Susquehanna Health System Tuesday signed the ceremonial documents completing the transaction.

UPMC is making a $500 million investment in what is now known as UMPC Susquehanna, which consist of Williamsport Regional Medical Center, Divine Providence Hospital, also in Williamsport, Muncy Valley Hospital in Muncy and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro.

The investment could include transforming Williamsport Regional Medical Center into a trauma center, said Leslie C. Davis, chief operating officer of the UPMC’s health services division.

“A trauma program takes a lot of effort and many years and who knows what can happen here in Williamsport,” she said. “That is one of things we have talked about.”

UPMC says the first focus of its investment is to expand emergency heart and vascular and cancer services.

Other strategic priorities, it says, will be to establish a neurosciences center and replace an in-patient rehabilitation center in Williamsport that was built in the 1960s.

Susquehanna, which has approximately 4,000 employees, and UMPC had announced in May their intent to pursue affiliation. UMPC has more than 20 hospitals and 60,000 employees.

The affiliation is part of strategic planning process that started 10 years ago, Pepperman said. With Susquehanna “at the top of its game” financially, it was not “a strategy born of necessity,” she said.

Susquehanna received 37 proposals from across the country when it let it be known it was seeking a partner, she said. The list was narrowed through site visits and interviews, she said.

The vote for UPMC was unanimous she said. UPMC brings with it tremendous opportunities and benefits, said Susquehanna board chair Ann Pepperman.

“What we liked most is their relentless focus on caring for patients,” said Steven P. Johnson, president of UPMC Susquehanna.

The affiliation with UPMC will enable projects that would have taken 10 years to be completed in five, he said. Good paying jobs will be created and new physicians recruited, he said.

Benefits he cited included UPMC’s academic partner, the University of Pittsburgh that has a medical school, a large residency and fellowship program and largest medical and behavioral health services insurer in western Pennsylvania.

“UPMC will bring resources not available before,” said Vincent J. Matteo, president and CEO of the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce. “The entire community will benefit.”

Current relationships Susquehanna has with the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic on heart services will continue, she said.

Local governance will continue under a board of directors consisting of 16 volunteer business and community members along with eight newly appointed members from UPMC.

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