LEWISTOWN - Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger Health System have come forward with the final merger agreement, committing to the goals Kay Hamilton, hospital president and CEO, first referred to as her merger "Christmas Wish List."
The Comprehensive Integration and Merger Agreement acts as the definitive contract between the two entities, Hamilton said. The document guarantees that Geisinger will keep Lewistown Hospital open, keep the school of nursing open, provide employee and physician security, accept popular insurance and develop capital gain.
"It's been months of good negotiations on both sides, but we're working with people that clearly want to do something good for the community," Hamilton said. "Unless the Attorney General wants us to make some changes to the document, these are the agreed upon terms."
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE?BOYER
Visitors depart via Lewistown Hospital’s Fourth Street entrance. Kay Hamilton, the hospital’s CEO, on Friday revealed the final terms of the facility’s agreement to merge with Geisinger.
Specifically, the CIMA maps out ways in which the goals will be reached and how the hospital will be improved over time, said Frank Trembulak, Geisinger executive vice president.
"All elements of the letter of intent are here, but they're expanded," Trembulak said. "Because of the due diligence process we were able to clarify our plans. The process is fairly cumbersome, but we're very comfortable that we didn't misstep."
Such developments include a schedule for physician and specialist recruitment as well as a plan to keep employee benefits and compensation comparable, Hamilton said. There will also be renovations to the Emergency Department and Imaging Department, she said.
"A lot of what we're doing going forward has to do with the master facility plan and clinical program plan," Hamilton said. "Clearly, with these changes, there will be a big impact. Our footprint might look entirely different by the time we get there."
The hospital is also opening an urgent care center this October in the Greater Lewistown Shopping Plaza, Trembulak said. The center will work in conjunction with the ER to limit the amount of non-emergency volume, he said.
"As we were going through this process and evaluation, we found that the emergency room is inundated with volume," Trembulak said. "There's a good amount that doesn't require the intensity or cost of an emergency room. An urgent care center will help to decompress this issue."
The hospital will also complete a Big Valley hospital-like care facility in Belleville to further expand service access, Hamilton said.
The Geisinger Health System Board will vote on the merger next week as will the Lewistown Hospital Corporate Members. The CIMA document will then be submitted to the Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission.
"We look to legally sign all documents and close on Sept. 30," Trembulak said. "If we stay on that path, Lewistown becomes part of the Geisinger system effective Oct. 1. In that period, from June to Sept 30, we may take the risk to make investments, so as we get closer to Oct. 1, we are already working on things rather than waiting another three months to get started."
Further information regarding the merger between Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger Health System is available at www.lewistownhospital.org. Questions about the merger are being accepted online at www.lewistownhospital.org/merger.