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Lancaster Health and Welsh Mountain Health centers approve merger

The boards of two Lancaster County-based, Federally Qualified Health Centers approved a merger between the nonprofit organizations they say will help provide accessible, affordable and integrated care to Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

Lancaster Health Center, with five Lancaster locations and 178 staff members, and Welsh Mountain Health Center, a provider with five locations in Lancaster and Lebanon and 97 staff members, announced plans on Monday to merge into one Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

The merger is pending approval from state regulators, according to officials from both services.

The centers provide primary care, dental care, behavioral health and social services to more than 35,000 patients across the two counties. As FQHCs, they receive funds from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s health center program to provide care for underserved areas.

The merger will allow the newly formed center to improve accessibility and affordability in those underserved areas, said Dr. Vincent Glielmi, Welsh Mountain Health Centers’ board chair.

“It’s important for our patients that both of our organizations come together and share one mission so that we can provide a stronger network of care,” he said.

The merger was supported by a $20,000 partnership grant by the Lancaster County Community Foundation. Dave Koser, the foundation’s director of programs, said that the grant was meant to help the two centers begin talking about merging– something that can be difficult without the right initial funding.

If the merger is approved by the state, the centers said they plan to have Lancaster Health Center’s president and CEO, Alisa Jones, take the helm of the new center. Jackie Concepcion, CEO of Welsh Mountain Health Centers, will take on the new role of vice president of community initiatives.

“It’s a beautiful story when two organizations can combine strengths in their roots, their work, and their vision, and start a new chapter that builds strength in unity,” said Jones, “We are confident that through consistent leadership and collaboration, the direct result of this alliance will allow us to grow stronger in equity for our vibrant communities. It’s our joint purpose to increase access to barrier-free healthcare – it’s what our communities deserve, and we welcome every friend, family, and neighbor who needs care and support.”

In the coming months, the centers noted that they will be finalizing a new name and brand for the FQHC coming out of the merger.

Correction: A previous version of the story said that the merger would be completed on Monday. The merger of an FQHC requires approval by the state government, which will take a few months.

Ioannis Pashakis
Ioannis Pashakis covers health care, the gig economy, cannabis and technology. Email him at ipashakis@bridgetowermedia.com.

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