DRMC top management gone as PIH takes over

DOWNEY - In what's being called a progressive step for Downey, PIH Health has agreed to assume management responsibilities of all day-to-day operations at Downey Regional Medical Center, officials announced Tuesday. The management services agreement with PIH Health comes exactly two months after Downey Regional's board of directors approved a multi-million dollar acquisition of the hospital by the Whittier-based health care network.

"Collaboration is an important element in the new era of healthcare reform, both locally and nationally," said DRMC Board chairman James Ball in a statement. "The expert support of PIH Health ensures the high standards of quality and safety that residents of the Downey community have counted on for more than 90 years."

Although the acquisition is currently awaiting approval from the California attorney general's office, the management services agreement allows PIH to begin making changes at Downey Regional before the transaction is finalized.

Hospital officials say the collaboration between DRMC and PIH Health will benefit patients, employees, physicians, and volunteers affiliated with both institutions.

According to PIH spokeswoman Monique Rodriquez, Ken Strople has resigned as DRMC president and chief executive officer while DRMC vice-president and chief operating officer Rob Fuller has been relieved of his duties.

Former PIH chief information officer Brian Smolskis will now serve as chief operating officer at the hospital, Rodriquez said.

"As nonprofit organizations, both DRMC and PIH Health share a rich history of meeting the healthcare needs of their communities and establishing a 'patients first' vision," Smolskis said in a statement. "Under healthcare reform, those hospitals that collaborate are rewarded for their efforts to improve wellness and increase care efficiencies. This collaboration will further strengthen the services and the reach of each institution."

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.

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.

Once approved by the attorney general, Downey Regional will join PIH Health as its second hospital.