Duke LifePoint to buy PA hospital system

Duke LifePoint Healthcare will acquire the three-hospital Conemaugh Health System in Pennsylvania and plans to invest as much as $500 million in the venture over the next decade, the Nashville Tennessean reports.

The deal, which includes Conemaugh's hospitals, physician practices and outpatient centers, would be the first in Pennsylvania for Duke LifePoint, which currently operates five hospitals.

Conemaugh looked for a potential partner for the past year and considered regional players UPMC and Highmark, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. Unlike many hospital systems seeking a partner, Conemaugh is financially sound and does not require a turnaround, according to the Tennessean.

"We've been one of the strongest-performing hospitals in Western Pennsylvania," Conemaugh Chief Executive Officer Scott Becker told the Tennessean. "We want to continue to grow and develop. What we find is that high-quality clinical performance leads to good financial performance."

The sales price for the transaction is not yet available, according to the Tennessean.

When Duke LifePoint was formed in 2011, those involved with the joint venture said it would focus primarily on community hospitals in North Carolina, but it has expanded outside of its initial territory, partnering with Michigan's Marquette General Health System and Virginia's Twin County Regional Healthcare. It operates three other hospitals in North Carolina.

Duke Life­Point plans to invest in integrating and further developing Conemaugh's technology. It also intends to expand its educational programs, which currently focus on graduate residency for physicians and nurse training, and build new outpatient centers.

"It is directly on-point with our strategic effort in Duke LifePoint," LifePoint system Chief Executive Officer Bill Carpenter told the Tennessean. "We are looking for tertiary hospitals with high-end services."

To learn more:
- read the Nashville Tennesean article
- here's the Pittsburgh Business Times article