WellSpan Health has taken the first steps toward bringing a Franklin County health network into its fold.
WellSpan and Chambersburg-based Summit Health announced Tuesday they have signed a nonbinding agreement that sets the framework and goals of a future affiliation.
Under the proposed affiliation, Summit would become part of the York County-based WellSpan network, which has been expanding throughout Central Pennsylvania over the last five years.
The affiliation is expected to be complete by fall 2018, according to Dan Carrigan, a spokesperson for WellSpan.
Summit operates two hospitals, in Chambersburg and Waynesboro, and a range of medical offices, walk-in care centers and other services in Franklin County. It has more than 3,599 employees.
Based in York Township, WellSpan operates six hospitals, a multispecialty medical group and a range of other providers at more than 140 patient-care locations. It has more than 15,000 employees.
As with other recent health care affiliations in Central Pennsylvania, officials with WellSpan and Summit said their goal is to keep pace with changes in the health care system’s focus.
“Health care across our nation – including here in Central Pennsylvania – continues to evolve into a system that not only treats people when they’re sick or injured but also partners with individuals and families to keep them healthy and to improve the overall health of communities,” Dr. Kevin Mosser, WellSpan’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “In response to this transformation, affiliations and partnerships have increasingly become an effective approach for health care organizations to share best practices, achieve economies of scale and – ultimately – enhance quality and affordability.”
The next steps include a period of due diligence, the development of a definitive agreement and regulatory review, according to a release from the two health systems.
The potential union with Summit Health would be the fourth affiliation for WellSpan in the past five years.
WellSpan moved into Lancaster County in 2013 through an affiliation with Ephrata Community Hospital, now known as WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital.
That was followed by an affiliation with Good Samaritan Health System in Lebanon County. Good Samaritan Hospital became WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital.
In 2015, WellSpan announced it was pursuing an affiliation with Philhaven, a Lebanon County-based behavioral health agency. It now operates as WellSpan Philhaven.
Other providers and insurers around the region also have been busy creating partnerships.
Insurer Highmark Health and Penn State Health were the most recent, unveiling a relationship in December.
Before that, it was Pittsburgh-based UPMC and Harrisburg-based PinnacleHealth. Pinnacle, now operating as UPMC Pinnacle, absorbed four midstate hospitals from Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc.
Lancaster General Health, meanwhile, joined the University of Pennsylvania Health System in 2015.