Highmark, WPAHS announce agreement; ER to reopen

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Highmark Inc. will contribute up to $475 million to West Penn Allegheny Health System in an affiliate agreement that will begin with the reopening of emergency services at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield.

Appointed as WPAHS' interim chief executive was Keith T. Ghezzi, a physician and managing director at Alvarez & Marsal Healthcare Industry Group in Washington, D.C. The Alvarez & Marsal website says Dr. Ghezzi specializes in "operational and financial turnarounds."

"Our anticipated partnership with Highmark has energized our medical staff and employees," said Jack Isherwood, chairman of the board of WPAHS. "We believe this partnership will create a highly efficient and lower-cost health care system, expand access to additional clinical services for patients and enhance medical education and training for physicians and other health care professionals."

The two organizations announced that their boards of directors have approved an agreement, which will soon be filed with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The transaction also must be reviewed by the Pennsylvania attorney general and the IRS.

As part of the Highmark-WPAHS agreement, Highmark sent $100 million to the health system today, $50 million of it as a grant and $50 million in an unsecured loan.

The agreement also will allow WPAHS to spend money on turning Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville into a Level II trauma center, a designation that would allow the hospital to handle more complex emergency cases.


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