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Health system, hospital creating collaborative relationship to sustain


Two local hospitals are expected to collaborate in the coming months to share services and build towards a sustainable future.

Somerset Hospital made the announcement that it would build a working relationship with Conemaugh Health System.

Rumors were swirling that Conemaugh Health System was considering a buy out from Highmark, but it doesn't appear to be a done deal yet.

"It's [healthcare] changing so rapidly that we never say no to anything," Conemaugh Health System CEO Scott Becker said.

The health system, however, is expecting to work with Somerset Hospital.

"We're trying to do things in a smart, effective way that benefits the patients in our region," Somerset Hospital CEO Ron Park said.

Both hospitals said it is a strong move towards the future to stay financially sound with the changing face of healthcare.

While other regional hospitals merged with major networks like UPMC or Highmark, Conemaugh and Somerset hope the deal is a vital, sustainable one for the area.

"No matter whether you're a small community hospital or large academic medical center, I think the financial challenges we face in today's environment are extraordinary," Park explained.

"We want to do what's best for Conemaugh and Somerset, not what's best for Pittsburgh," Becker said.

Somerset will remain an independent community hospital, but will share services and is expected to retain jobs. 

"This collaborative effort is the best way to sustain the most jobs in our community," Park said.

The decision is not expected to be finalized until January of 2014.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times