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Business & Merchant

Washington Health System Chooses Affiliation with UPMC

Washington Health System (WHS) has proudly served Southwestern Pennsylvania for 127 years with a mission of providing Great Patient Care close to home. What began as a singular entity in 1897 for the purpose of providing healthcare services and medical training has grown into a system of more than 40 locations spanning multiple counties and employing 2,700 people across the region.

While WHS remains Washington County’s largest employer and continues to invest resources to better meet the needs of local residents, the system has not been immune from the challenges many providers – particularly in rural communities – have faced in the post-pandemic landscape. 

Approximately 27% of Pennsylvania’s rural hospitals are at risk of closing due to growing financial pressures, according to the Pittsburgh-based Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. Following years declining patient volumes, increased overhead costs, and government insurance reimbursement not keeping up with overall expense increases – WHS, together with the Board of Directors, decided it was time to make a change. They did so before becoming a statistic became inevitable and the ability to maintain high quality care was in jeopardy.

The Board’s goal was simple and clear: make sure WHS can continue to serve local communities with the best healthcare and to be a rewarding and secure home for employees, both current and future.

Having received multiple bids from providers across the region and assessing potential partners on a multitude of criteria, keeping patients front of mind, the Board made a unanimous decision. UPMC would be WHS’ partner of choice for the future.

Affiliating with UPMC – a longstanding partner already serving 10,000 WHS patients through various clinical joint ventures – advances the shared goal of delivering the highest quality of healthcare to regional residents. This affiliation will be good for patients, ensuring local access to care and maintaining current services. It will be good for employees, sustaining current jobs while offering world-class benefits to attract new talent and opportunities. And it will be good for communities, ensuring that WHS can continue to provide long-term exceptional care today and well into the future.

As part of the affiliation agreement, UPMC has made several commitments for at least 10 years. This includes maintaining Washington Hospital as an acute care general hospital along with its key services, maintaining core services such as emergency care, diagnostic, ambulatory, and primary care in Greene County, and investing a minimum of $300 million in capital in WHS. The Washington Hospital Foundation will be funded with $40 million as of the closing of the transaction, which will be used exclusively to support programs in the Washington and Greene communities.

This is all while expanding services and ensuring delivery of the highest quality of healthcare to regional residents.

While the regulatory approval process of the affiliation is still ongoing, WHS is hopeful it will be completed as soon as possible. WHS employees, public officials, members of the building trades, and UPMC personnel voiced their overwhelming support for the affiliation at a public hearing held by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General in January. As described, time is of the essence – as each month goes by without the affiliation, the current WHS system is placed in further financial strain.

“Our affiliation with UPMC will ensure that when you – our patients and community partners – need us, we’ll be there for you. Just as we are now,” Brook Ward, President & CEO of Washington Health System wrote in an op-ed.  “We believe the Washington and Greene communities deserve world-class health care. We’re taking action to keep that mission, now and for many years to come.”  


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