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Local hospitals react to PinnacleHealth move

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By this summer PinnacleHealth could be operating seven hospitals in Central Pennsylvania. What does that mean for those hospitals and for the communities they serve?

So far so good, according to initial reactions across the midstate.

For PinnacleHealth, it means a bigger footprint.

PinnacleHealth already has three hospitals, and if it closes a deal with Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc., the Harrisburg-based health system will land four additional hospitals – one in Cumberland County, one in York County and two in Lancaster County.

For all of the targeted hospitals, it means returning to local ownership. It also means that employees in good standing will be offered employment by PinnacleHealth when the transaction is complete.

Community leaders across the region are seeing PinnacleHealth's takeover as positive, especially in York where the hospital for sale, Memorial Hospital, is already in major transition as it constructs a new building.

The agreement between PinnacleHealth and CHS includes "continued commitment to construct a new, replacement hospital at the site of the former Hawk Lake Golf Course in West Manchester Township," a news release said.

Memorial is currently in Spring Garden Township.

"We are pleased that the agreement with PinnacleHealth includes a continued commitment to construct a new, replacement hospital that will support a healthy future for our community," Sally Dixon, CEO of Memorial, said.

"Having Memorial under local, Pennsylvania ownership is a good thing," according to Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of York County Economic Alliance. It's an especially positive move given the health care industry's status as one of York County's largest employers, and one of the largest-employing industries in the state, he added.

In Lancaster, PinnacleHealth is slated to take over Lancaster Regional Medical Center and Heart of Lancaster.

Lancaster Regional leadership reacted positively to the sale this week, saying that it will help both hospitals maintain their roles in the county. The hospitals recently faced new competition when Lancaster General Health joined Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine in 2015.

"Our hospitals play a crucial role in providing convenient and quality health care for our patients," said Brooks Turkel, market CEO of Lancaster Regional Medical Center and Heart of Lancaster. "PinnacleHealth will help us maintain our critical positions as anchor institutions and employers in the community."

Carlisle Regional Medical Center could not be reached for comment, but one Cumberland County leader sees the sale as a good thing for the county’s health care access.

Jonathan Bowser, CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., lauded PinnacleHealth's planned purchase of Carlisle Regional, and said the impending affiliation with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which would put all of PinnacleHealth under the umbrella of one of the nation’s largest health system, is even better.

"We think this is encouraging and are supportive of the acquisition," Bowser said. "Pinnacle has a much larger footprint and resources to bear, and with their prospective affiliation with UPMC, it will only enhance their delivery of service."

Reporter Jennifer Wentz contributed to this report.

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