Merger Between WCA Hospital, UPMC Finalized

Betsy T. Wright, WCA Hospital president and chief executive officer, announcing the integration of WCA Hospital with UPMC health care network to form UPMC Chautauqua WCA. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

There is a new official name for the city’s deliverer of world-class health care.

On Friday, hospital officials gathered to announce the finalization of the integration between WCA Hospital and UPMC Hamot, with UPMC Chautauqua WCA now being the new official name for the health care provider. WCA Hospital is the first New York state hospital to integrate with UPMC.

Officials from WCA and UPMC have been working on the integration for almost a year. In December 2015, WCA and UPMC officials announced the signing of an affiliation to integrate agreement. During the summer, officials from both health care organizations worked to gain state approval from the state Public Health and Health Planning Council, Office of Mental Health and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

Betsy T. Wright, WCA Hospital president and chief executive officer, said as part of the integration UPMC has committed to investing at least $25 million during the next 10 years to support enhancements at WCA. UPMC has also agreed to relieve WCA’s debt and cover its pension obligations, freeing up money for capital improvements. The integration will also bring additional specialty services and programs to the hospital.

”We are now positioned to become stronger than ever,” Wright said. ”Today, we begin our formal integration and shared vision to strengthen UPMC Chautauqua WCA as the region’s premier provider of health care well into the future. This exciting new integration with UPMC and UPMC Hamot is the culmination of a five-year process of assessing the future of health care for Jamestown and to meet the challenges of today’s evolving health care industry. Our 131-year tradition of service and excellence will continue as we deliver care to this community and provide even greater opportunity moving forward to offer additional specialty services and programs. World-class care is now within our residents reach.”

Steve Kilburn, WCA Hospital Board of Directors chairman, said nothing as far as physician or health insurance coverage will change for WCA’s patients.

”UPMC Chautauqua WCA continues to be our local hospital,” he said. ”This is a big win for our community. At a time when hospitals across New York state are challenged with unprecedented pressures, our local hospital has joined a world-class health care system. As a result of this integration, we believe that our hospital will be stronger and that services will grow in the years to come. We owe a debt of gratitude to Betsy Wright and to our committed hospital leaders and board members for their foresight and hard work in helping us achieve this remarkable accomplishment for our region. I believe that a strong, sustainable future for health care in our community begins today, and I look forward to our patients, employees and fellow community members experiencing the advantages that this integration brings.”

Jim Fiorenzo, UPMC Hamot president, said WCA personnel will get the full support of UPMC corporate infrastructure during the transition. Fiorenzo knows this because five years ago he went through the transition process when Hamot joined UPMC. Since signing a strategic affiliation agreement in 2012, WCA and UPMC Hamot have already experienced a long-standing and mutually beneficial collaboration.

”This partnership has flourished, resulting in our exciting announcement today,” Fiorenzo said. ”I am proud to have led UPMC Hamot in its work with the amazing teams at WCA. We are eager to further share our strengths and resources to advance patient care, assist in retaining and recruiting outstanding physicians, and upgrade facilities and infrastructure, including rapidly advancing information technology,” he said.

The integration became official on Dec. 1. UPMC Chautauqua WCA is the first hospital outside of Pennsylvania to integrate with UPMC, which is based in Pittsburgh.

Hospital officials said UPMC is one of the country’s largest provider-led integrated health care delivery and finance systems and as a leading academic medical center is consistently ranked in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals. UPMC Chautauqua WCA will continue to operate as an acute-care community hospital providing high-quality inpatient, outpatient and emergency department services to the Chautauqua County region. The integration will preserve and grow services, programs and access to local health care; create efficiencies in resource utilization; promote and enhance high quality of care for southern Chautauqua County; and sustain UPMC Chautauqua WCA as a strong, financially viable hospital

Hospital officials said the combined governance of UPMC Chautauqua WCA, UPMC and UPMC Hamot will result in a regionally coordinated approach to maximize efficiencies and align resources to deliver a comprehensive complement of specialized health care services locally.

”I am so proud of the dedication of our engaged medical staff and loyal employees and volunteers who provide exceptional health care to those we are so privileged to serve,” Wright said. ”On this commemorative day, we celebrate the preservation and growth of a vital community asset and our premier local health care delivery system, now with a new name, UPMC Chautauqua WCA.”

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