Hospital, PIH talk merger

DOWNEY - Citing the need for stronger strategic partnerships, Downey Regional Medical Center (DRMC) entered exclusive negotiations with PIH Health of Whittier last week that could create a potential affiliation between the two not-for-profit hospitals.While negotiations are still underway, hospital executives say an agreement may lead to the possible acquisition of DRMC by PIH Health. "If an agreement is reached, this affiliation would create an integrated regional healthcare system with many benefits for residents of the greater Southeast Los Angeles County area serviced by the two hospitals," said James R. West, President and Chief Executive Officer of PIH Health. "By working with the management and physicians at DRMC, the two entities should be able to create a comprehensive network of healthcare services that will be unsurpassed in the area." According to Rob Fuller, executive vice president at DRMC, it may be several more weeks before any agreement is finalized between the two parties. "In 2013, we'll take a look at what kind of transaction takes place. As far as whose name is on the building, all we know is there'll be a hospital in Downey and a hospital in Whittier," said Fuller. "It may take a third party name, but those are minor will be the same entity." However, Fuller stressed that the 90-year-old hospital's main priority was joining a health care system that allows DRMC to become a strong viable hospital with a strong emergency room. "I don't know how much the average person knows about hospital economics, but stand alone hospitals are a rare entity," he said. "With recent health care reforms, hospitals are under tremendous pressure." Founded in 1959, PIH Health is a healthcare delivery network comprised of primary and specialty care, urgent care, home health, hospice and in-patient hospital services at 400-plus bed Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier. This isn't the first time DRMC entered negotiations with PIH Health. During the height of the hospital's bankruptcy in 2010, PIH considered acquiring Downey Regional, but negotiations yielded no agreement. "We are hopeful that we can quickly come to terms with PIH Health and allow for nonprofit Downey Regional Medical Center to continue operations as an affiliate of PIH Health," stated Kenneth Strople, President & CEO of DRMC. "While this letter of intent is nonbinding and preliminary in nature, there is a natural geographic and operational affinity between the two organizations that should allow for the Downey-based nonprofit hospital to enjoy continued successful hospital operations."

********** Published: December 6, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 34