New Castle News

April 3, 2014

Jameson in discussions with larger health systems

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Jameson Health System is in discussions with other health systems about possible joint ventures, mergers or acquisition.

Doug Danko, president and chief executive officer, said yesterday that three “larger health systems” have reached out to Jameson, but no decisions have been made on what direction to take.

The three organizations are the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Highmark at Allegheny Health Network and Community Health System Inc., which has purchased Sharon Regional Health System.

“We are evaluating options,” Danko said.

Jameson currently has clinical affiliations with other health organizations, including a cardiac program, radiation oncology and thoracic surgery with UPMC, cardiac services with Butler Cardiology and pediatric behavioral health with Sharon Regional.

Jameson Health System includes Jameson Hospital, both North and South campuses, Jameson Care Center, the Children’s Advocacy Center and Jameson Medical Services. It has 1,380 employees.

In a written statement, Danko said, “As Jameson has entered into discussions with other systems in our region, there is naturally speculation about how these relationships might evolve into a merger or perhaps an acquisition.”

“At Jameson, we feel fortunate that the larger health systems in this region have reached out to us and expressed how they value our community health system and also have expressed interest to work more closely with Jameson in order to stabilize and strengthen the services needed today and into the distant future for our Lawrence County residents.”

His statement noted the board “has established clear principles that focus on only considering new, or expanded relationships with others that are designed to enhance the care and services we provide.

“To that end, we have and will continue to meet with leaders from other regional organizations and we will keep our community informed of any actions felt to be in the long-term best interest of our community.”

Danko said he believes the Affordable Care Act will change healthcare delivery throughout the country “in the most dramatic way” since passage of Medicare in 1965.

The act, he said, focuses on controlling the costs of healthcare and improving healthcare outcomes.

“I think it’s the trigger” for health systems to explore more collaborative efforts.

One of the practical effects of the act is to have a “sophisticated medical information system” capable of sharing patient data, he said. Implementing such a system “is a very, very heavy lift” that most independent health systems can’t do.

That and other objectives of the act, he said, cannot be accomplished alone.

“We’re pretty healthy right now,” Danko said of Jameson. However, he added, “You have to think of what’s in the best interests of the community.”

“No defined timeline” has been established as to when something will occur. “It all depends on the discussions,” Danko said.

But he said there is no doubt that change in some form will occur.

Noting Jameson has not been an independent entity, but one that has been interdependent, Danko said, “This is just an evolution of interdependence to more interdependence.

“This is a movement that’s a national trend. We will do what’s in the best interests of our community.”