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York County-based WellSpan Health announced Tuesday, April 3, that it is pursuing a merger with Summit Health, which runs two hospitals and supporting medical facilities in Franklin County.

As part of a memorandum of understanding approved by governing boards from both organizations, Summit Health would become a part of the WellSpan system, according to a news release.

WellSpan operates six hospitals in central Pennsylvania, including York Hospital, and employs 15,000 people, according to the nonprofit. Its website notes the health system also operates "a regional behavioral health organization, a home care organization ... and more than 140 patient care locations."

Summit Health operates hospitals in Chambersburg and Waynesboro, as well as 33 outpatient practices and lab and imaging services, according to its website.

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The document announced Tuesday is a non-binding agreement, which outlines goals for the potential affiliation.

The next steps will be to develop a definitive agreement between the two organizations and have a regulatory review, following a period of formal due diligence, according to leaders of the organizations. 

The merger could be complete by fall, WellSpan spokesman Brett Marcy said.

The affiliation plans to focus on training and recruiting more physicians and other health care workers to serve Franklin County and surrounding communities, as well as investing in new services, facilities and technology in those communities, the news release states.

Kevin Mosser, president and CEO of WellSpan Health, noted the benefits of partnering with another organization in the modern health landscape.

“Health care across our nation — including here in Central Pennsylvania — continues to evolve into a system that not only treats people when they’re sick or injured but also partners with individuals and families to keep them healthy and to improve the overall health of communities,” he stated.

“In response to this transformation, affiliations and partnerships have increasingly become an effective approach for health care organizations to share best practices, achieve economies of scale and — ultimately — enhance quality and affordability," he continued.

The 125-year-old Summit and WellSpan — in operation for 135 years —already have a longstanding relationship, which includes collaboration in the regional Central Pennsylvania Alliance Laboratory and Quest Behavioral Health, the release states.

“We share similar community-based missions and values," stated Patrick O'Donnell, president and CEO of Summit Health. “We have found a partner that believes in our vision of ‘Local, Comprehensive Care; Inspiring Hope for a Healthier Life,’ as much as we do, and a partner who will help to take us to the next level.”

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