Ephrata Community Hospital, WellSpan ponder affiliation

October 26. 2012 3:00PM - Last modified: October 26. 2012 3:46PM

Heather Stauffer

Ephrata Community Hospital and WellSpan Health announced this afternoon that their boards of directors have approved a memorandum of understanding that outlines a potential affiliation.

John M. Porter Jr., president and CEO of Ephrata Community Hospital, and Bruce M. Bartels, president of WellSpan Health, said in the proposed arrangement Ephrata Community Hospital would become part of WellSpan's nonprofit system.

Ephrata would continue to be governed by a local board of directors, which would have a formal relationship with and include representatives from the WellSpan Health board of directors. WellSpan's current entities have similar structures.

WellSpan Health would operate Ephrata Community Hospital as well as WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital, WellSpan York Hospital and the WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital under separate licenses and medical staffs. Individual foundations would operate in Ephrata, York and Gettysburg, ensuring community involvement and focus on the unique health needs of these communities.

Discussions between the two organizations began in spring 2012 and have involved senior management and volunteer board leadership, according to a news release. The next steps include a period of formal due diligence and consideration of a final agreement by early 2013, followed by regulatory review.

The organizations list their goals in considering affiliation as follows:

• improving health across Central Pennsylvania while enhancing local systems of care in northern Lancaster County, Adams County and York County.

• maintaining existing relationships and clinical partnerships with other local health care providers.

• enhancing a model of care based on an individual's relationship with a primary care physician who works with highly skilled specialists to coordinate all the care an individual requires across the lifespan.

• offering stronger medical, nursing and allied health educational resources to address a projected shortage of physicians and health professionals.

Ephrata's organization was formed in 1940 and now includes the hospital, 10 outpatient centers,

the Ephrata Cancer Center and the 19 practices of the Northern Lancaster County Medical

Group, in addition to offering Ephrata Community Home Care and EME medical equipment.

Wellspan, based in York Township, is an integrated health system that partners with physicians, other health care organizations and inpatient, outpatient, home health and physician services.

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