PinnacleHealth CEO eyes growth as hospital acquisitions commemorated

PinnacleHealth President and CEO Phil Guarneschelli and Lancaster Regional Medical Center CEO Brooks Turkel are seen outside the hospital following a flag-raising ceremony to mark its acquisition by PinnacleHealth from Community Health Systems Inc. - (Photo / Roger DuPuis)

Rain may have dampened the ceremonies marking PinnacleHealth’s acquisition of four midstate hospitals on Thursday, but its leaders saw only blue skies ahead.

“I would hope that we will be growing the staffing levels, because we will be growing our business,” PinnacleHealth President and CEO Phil Guarneschelli said following a flag-raising event at Lancaster Regional Medical Center.

“That’s our intent, and what we believe the future is.”

Harrisburg-based PinnacleHealth last week completed its takeover of Lancaster Regional Medical Center and Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center in Lancaster County, Memorial Hospital in York County and Carlisle Regional Medical Center in Cumberland County from Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc. (CHS), a for-profit company. The price was not disclosed.

As part of the deal, nonprofit PinnacleHealth offered employment to all active employees in good standing at the time of the transaction’s closure, bringing its overall headcount in the region to more than 8,000 employees and 1,435 total medical staff members.

Guarneschelli said pre-sale research revealed positive trends about staff and staffing at the facilities.

“We believe that these hospitals have been operated very efficiently and very effectively over the years,” he said.

“Our due diligence showed that they’ve got an incredibly talented workforce, and we are pleased to be able to ask them to join the PinnacleHealth system as the quality people that they are.”

While Tennessee-based CHS has been struggling in recent years, a recent Business Journal analysis of publicly available records shows that the four midstate hospitals were mostly in good financial health. Of them, only York’s Memorial had shown negative margins.

Lancaster Regional Medical Center, with 214 beds, is the largest of the quartet.

Hospital CEO Brooks Turkel, who has been at Lancaster Regional for about nine months, said he and the staff are “thrilled” about the transition to PinnacleHealth — and nonprofit operation.

“While certainly CHS has tremendous resources, one of the differences is our tremendous resources are now here in the community, up the road,” he said of PinnacleHealth. “To have this talented team this close, here to help us, I think that’s the biggest advantage.”

Guarneschelli said the nonprofit model will help spur greater investment in the local facilities “to allow them to have the ability to have better technology, more current technology and better operating platforms.”

He expects to see busier facilities and collaboration between the hospitals and PinnacleHealth to develop a strategic plan for clinical and operating advancements.

Turkel also said he expects to see close collaboration with the administration in Harrisburg, and with other entities in the region.

“One of the things I think that we will do better — I’ve seen it working with the PinnacleHealth team already — is that whole connection outside the four walls of the hospital,” he said.

“It’s about what’s going on in the community. Disease is the enemy. The other systems are competition, but hopefully we will all make each other better.”

In a separate move, PinnacleHealth this spring also signed a letter of intent to affiliate with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Guarneschelli said talks remain active, and Pinnacle hopes to be able to complete the deal in the coming months.

“They’ve been very, very good to work with,” he said.

Flag-raising ceremonies were held at the hospitals in Lancaster and York counties on Thursday, with a similar event set for this morning at Carlisle Regional Medical Center.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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