Executives from Highmark Inc.'s health provider wing plan to meet in Green Tree tonight with West Penn Allegheny Health System physician leadership and medical personnel to discuss "Highmark's ongoing plans for the integrated delivery system."
The meeting, which comes 12 days after WPAHS announced that it intends to dissolve its partnership with Pittsburgh's leading health insurer, will address the proposed breach and Highmark's plans to bridge it.
Highmark's gamble to assemble a $1 billion delivery wing was built around WPAHS as its main hospital component. WPAHS's "separation" announcement, made Sept. 28, threw that plan into confusion.
While West Penn Allegheny Health System's board and interim leadership is painting its proposed separation from Highmark -- precipitated, WPAHS says, because Highmark was trying to strong-arm the hospital system into bankruptcy -- as an announcement that was well received by employees, some of those employees are saying it was anything but.
Many physicians, who agreed to speak to the Post-Gazette on the condition on anonymity, said they are against the split, and hope that WPAHS will call off its search for new suitors -- a search that prompted Highmark last week to seek an injunction that would prevent WPAHS from shopping itself to other investors.
Employees worry that the friction is damaging to the health system, threatening to derail a partnership with the one institution in town -- Highmark -- that had the will and the financial wherewithal to save WPAHS.
Others said they are concerned that the divorce, if it happens, could threaten the future of West Penn Hospital, which has been the prime beneficiary of the WPAHS-Highmark partnership. Highmark poured millions into the reopening of West Penn Hospital's emergency room and millions more into new equipment at the Bloomfield hospital.
One source said that physicians, particularly West Penn physicians, were so disappointed with the board's decision that they were contemplating a vote of no-confidence in the WPAHS board of directors, but another characterized the "no confidence" discussion as off-the-cuff and casual, and not something that was taken seriously.
Bill Toland: email@example.com or 412-263-2625.