UPMC acquires Pennsylvania-based Washington Health System

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center finalized its acquisition of Washington Health System, a two-hospital nonprofit community health system based in Pennsylvania.

The health system's two hospitals have been renamed UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene.

The two systems first announced plans to merge a year ago. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

UPMC has committed to invest at least $300 million over 10 years to enhance clinical services and upgrade facilities at UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene. 

Clinical collaborations between WHS and UPMC have been in place for more than a decade in the areas of oncology (UPMC Hillman Cancer Center joint venture), pediatric specialties (UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh), women’s health (UPMC Magee-Womens) and heart and vascular care (UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute), providing care for more than 10,000 patients annually. UPMC will continue to invest in and advance key services locally, including inpatient and emergency care, women’s health, cardiology, surgical services, diagnostics, primary care and specialty and outpatient services, the health system said.

“We are elated that the affiliation is complete and look forward to starting a new chapter of collaboration with UPMC,” said Brook Ward, president of UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene, in a statement. “This affiliation protects the vitality of an essential community asset and solidifies a healthy future for Washington and Greene counties for generations to come.”

“Our focus is on ensuring residents have access to life-saving services and advanced care that is sustainable into the future and preserving jobs of our talented health care workers,” said Ward. “The community is gaining close-to-home access to the nationally recognized, high-specialty care of UPMC. Our local capabilities will expand, creating a destination for world-class care in southwestern Pennsylvania.”

Washington is headlined by its 278-bed flagship hospital in Washington, Pennsylvania, but it also runs a 49-bed facility in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, and more than 40 other off-site locations across three of the state’s counties.

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, issued a statement on behalf of Washington Health System workers that they intend to hold UPMC accountable to maintain all patient services, insurance access, jobs and union standards after the merger.

The union advocated for the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance that UPMC agreed to as a condition for approval of its takeover of Washington Health. Those commitments include that UPMC will "greatly expand the availability of health services," "access to care will not be interrupted, regardless of patient insurance plans," collective bargaining agreements will "stay in place" and UPMC will engage in "good faith bargaining," according to the union.

Commitments made to the community also include that employee benefits will "meet or exceed those that they receive through WHS" and no job cuts. "While that agreement has important protections, it should have done more to guarantee our facilities will remain open and no jobs or services will be cut," the union said in a statement.

The union continued, "The healthcare workforce is already struggling with a severe staffing crisis, the lingering effects of the pandemic, turnover, burnout and inflation. Any cuts – such as the service terminations, closures, layoffs and pay reductions that UPMC has carried out across its system – would be devastating to Washington. UPMC must instead, as promised, invest significant resources in our workforce and the care we deliver."  

Back in April, the health system announced a wave of employee layoffs that impacted about 1,000 staff. But those reductions are part of a broader restructure and operations “transformation” initiative, for which the nonprofit system has tapped management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, according to an internal presentation obtained by Fierce Healthcare.

UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene will maintain a local board of directors consisting of 11 legacy WHS board members and five newly appointed members from UPMC.

“UPMC has a long, successful track record of affiliations with like-minded organizations. We know how essential these hospitals are to this region to preserve needed health care services and livelihoods of thousands touched by them, and we are thrilled to welcome UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene to UPMC,” said Leslie C. Davis, president and CEO of UPMC, in a statement.

Washington had been on the lookout for a larger health system to join since late 2022 when its board submitted a request for proposals.

UPMC has grown rapidly in recent decades, logging 28 acquisitions between 1996 and 2019.