Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital announced Monday that they plan to integrate as two hospitals under one new parent company.
Officials described the action as the first step toward creating a financially stronger and better coordinated regional health care system in northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York State.
The plan was approved by the boards of directors of both hospitals based on a recommendation from a steering committee that included hospital management, board members and physicians.
Final agreement and approval of the integration, including completion of all regulatory reviews, is expected to take about a year, officials said.
"Locally driven and orchestrated, this action is being taken to create an integrated health system by the region, for the region," said Edwin O. Pecht, chairman of the Bradford hospital's board of directors. "It will help ensure access to vital medical care and health services for more than 150,000 area residents."
He and others cited a host of reasons for the deal, including greater efficiency and purchasing power, more business stability, enhanced ability to recruit physicians and the opportunity to broaden medical services.
The integration will be structured so that each organization maintains its separate corporate existence. Both hospitals will retain separate boards of directors to oversee licensing requirements and provide quality oversight, physician credentialing, strategic planning and budget recommendations.
However, a new umbrella organization will be created , with the goal of moving the two hospitals as close to operating as a single entity as possible. The new board will be chosen by and consist of members of the hospitals' existing boards.
George E. Leonhardt will continue to serve as president and chief executive officer of the 119-bed Bradford Regional, and Timothy J. Finan will remain president and chief executive officer of the 186-bed Olean General. Officials said the hospitals also intend to appoint Finan president and chief executive of the parent company.
"As part of an integrated, regional health system with increased resources, we'll be able to provide patients access to even greater care," Finan said.