West Penn Allegheny Health System Announces Transition Of Suburban General Hospital To Northern Campus Of AGH

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials of the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) today announced plans to transition Suburban General Hospital (SGH) in Bellevue to a northern campus of Allegheny General Hospital (AGH). The new entity, to be called AGH Suburban Campus, will afford residents of Pittsburgh’s northern communities enhanced access to AGH’s nationally recognized acute care services.

According to Jerry Fedele, President and CEO of WPAHS, the merger of AGH and SGH, is a development that will significantly benefit the system, both hospitals, and most important, patients served by the institutions.

“Clearly we believe that we can enhance our clinical capabilities through a more synergistic integration of our respective hospitals’ strengths. For more than a century, Suburban General and its staff have provided an outstanding level of care for the people of Bellevue and its adjacent neighborhoods. We maintain, however, that in addition to the current services provided, it has even greater potential as a community resource and value to our system as a center for select specialty services and post-acute care programs. Restructuring the hospital as a campus of AGH will better enable us to achieve that goal,” said Jerry Fedele, WPAHS President and Chief Executive Officer.

Suburban General is a 154-bed hospital offering a full spectrum of medical and surgical services, including emergency, orthopedic, rehabilitation, cardiac and intensive care. Other notable programs include a recently opened neurological rehabilitation unit, a sleep disorders center and an institute for pain medicine. Each year, more than 13,000 patients receive care in the hospital’s emergency department and more than 4,000 patients are admitted.

Over the past four years, AGH and SGH have become more closely affiliated through a number of shared clinical programs, such as urology, radiology, emergency medicine, integrated medicine and anesthesiology.

Fedele stressed that, among other programs, emergency medicine will continue to be a vital component of the services offered at the AGH Suburban Campus. Additionally, though many specific details relative to the ultimate configuration of clinical programs at the facility still need resolution, employment will remain the same as or possibly grow as a result of the transition.

“This move will not only maintain the employee base at Suburban General, but may in fact expand it through the development of new clinical programs,” Fedele said.

“Today’s announcement is great news for the community, the employees of Suburban General and for the entire WPAHS family. The close proximity between AGH and Suburban General has helped facilitate greater collaboration between our respective staffs in recent years to the significant benefit of the patients we serve. As we examined the advantages of this evolving relationship relative to the hospital’s mission it became apparent that a more formal strategic alliance would further advance the clinical capabilities we present to our service area,” said Melinda Meighan, chairperson of SGH’s Board of Directors.

“On the eve of our centennial anniversary, this transition marks a rebirth for Suburban General into a new, stronger entity that will define and guide its mission through the next century.”

The integration of SGH and AGH will entail completion of a full corporate merger between the two entities, including creation of a single board of directors and integrated medical staffs.

“Given the significant level of clinical collaboration that has been established between AGH and Suburban General over the past couple of years, this new relationship is a natural transition that will further benefit the communities served by both hospitals,” said Herbert Ellish, chairman of AGH’s board of directors.

WPAHS will make a substantial investment in the AGH Suburban Campus, including information technology upgrades, building infrastructure renovations, aesthetic improvements and clinical upgrades.

“We are extremely excited about the possibilities of this merger, particularly the new equity that it brings to our position as a preferred healthcare provider in the northern region. Given our existing partnerships with the AGH medical staff, this move is a natural transition that will further benefit the patients we care for and strengthen the relationships we have with independent physician groups in the region who have also played an important role in our success throughout the years,” said David Reed, M.D., president of SGH’s medical staff.

“We, too, are enthused with the development of the Suburban Campus,” commented Michael White, M.D., president of AGH’s medical staff. “The collaborative efforts of our medical staffs coupled with enhancements in clinical programming at the hospital will be of great benefit to residents in the northern suburbs.”

The system has also pledged to maintain the Suburban Health Foundation’s mission of directing charitable donations to the Suburban Campus facility and its programs, Meighan said.

“It is our intent to maintain in every way possible the tradition and culture of care that exists at Suburban General and the unique relationship that it has forged with its community,” Meighan said.

Clinical program development at the Suburban campus will begin in the spring of 2005. Included among these is the transition to the site of several key components of AGH’s orthopedic surgery program, including its division of adult reconstruction/joint replacement surgery and division of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Under the direction of Nicholas Sotereanos, M.D., AGH’s joint replacement program is among the most advanced and busiest programs in the state.

“Joint reconstruction is a cornerstone of our nationally recognized orthopedic surgery program and we are enthusiastic about its transition to the AGH suburban campus,” said Patrick DeMeo, Vice Chairman of AGH’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Following outstanding performance for AGH in fiscal 2004, the merger with Suburban General represents a significant opportunity for continued growth of the north side hospital’s tertiary services, said Connie Cibrone, AGH President and CEO. “The unification of AGH and Suburban General will be remembered as another important milestone for AGH,” she said.

“This merger not only improves access to our clinical programs in the growing northern communities, but enhances patient care at our north side campus as well by expanding its ability to accommodate increasing surgical volumes, demand for ICU beds and other patient care needs.”

Cibrone said that the transitioning of select inpatient and outpatient surgical services to the Suburban Campus will allow AGH to open its capacity in a number of key clinical areas.

WPAHS expects to complete the merger of the two hospitals by January 1, 2005.

West Penn Allegheny Health System

CONTACT: Dan Laurent of West Penn Allegheny Health System,+1-412-359-8602