Directors of an Altoona, Pa.-based health system and its parent company have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to negotiate an affiliation with UPMC, according to a news release.
Altoona Regional Health System, under parent company Central Pennsylvania Health Services Corporation, and the Pittsburgh health system will enter into a due diligence period, Altoona Regional spokesman Dave Cuzzolina said, during which each side exchanges detailed information from finances to board meeting minutes.
The final step would be signing a definitive agreement to affiliate, Mr. Cuzzolina said. While "you never know about these things," he said he is optimistic that a definitive agreement could be signed in four months to six months.
For more than a year, Altoona Regional directors have considered affiliating with a larger system to "offer opportunities to expand and enhance" care, "while addressing the significant challenges and financial pressures in health care," Mr. Cuzzolina said.
In November, Altoona Regional announced its decision to pursue an affiliation with UPMC; the letter is the result of "comprehensive" talks since then, he said.
"UPMC shares our commitment to superior quality patient care and our vision for the future," Altoona Regional board chairman Rob Halbritter said. "An affiliation with UPMC will be extremely positive for Altoona Regional, our patients and the entire region."
The relationship between the health systems has been "long-standing and cooperative," said Elizabeth B. Concordia, UPMC executive vice president and president of its hospital and community services division.
"UPMC is committed to the continued growth and elevation of services at Altoona Regional Health System and to enhancing Altoona Regional's established role as the region's leading tertiary care provider," she said.
Lexi Belculfine: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc.