Downey Regional-PIH acquisition awaiting approval by California AG's office

DOWNEY - The multi-million acquisition of Downey Regional Medical Center by PIH Health of Whittier is currently awaiting approval from the California attorney general's office after hospital executives finalized negotiations last month. According to public city documents, Downey Regional's board of directors approved the impending merger on April 17 and filed it with the attorney general's office 13 days later.

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Wendi Horwitz, Mayor Mario Guerra offered an endorsement of the acquisition, which will integrate DRMC into the PIH Health system.

"On behalf of the City of Downey and its residents who are served by Downey Regional Medical Center and Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital it is with great pleasure that I recommend to you approval of the proposed merger of these excellent healthcare organizations," Guerra wrote.

"Downey Regional has struggled, but with the City's support has started to overcome its financial adding Downey Regional to PIH Health, the City residents can look forward to better access to world-class health care right in their own community," he added. "It is for this reason that I heartily recommend your approval of this merger."

Citing the need for stronger strategic partnerships, Downey Regional Medical Center announced last December that it had entered exclusive negotiations with PIH Health in order to create a potential affiliation between the two not-for-profit hospitals.

"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 PIH Health President and CEO James R. West at the time.

Founded in 1959, PIH Health is a health care delivery network comprised of primary and specialty care, urgent care, home health, hospice and in-patient hospital services at the 400-plus bed Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier.

During the height of the Downey Regional's bankruptcy in 2010, PIH considered acquiring the 90-year-old hospital, but negotiations yielded no agreement.

The approval process by the state attorney general is expected to take upward of 90 days. Once the review is completed, DRMC and PIH may proceed to close the transaction.