A Pittsburgh-based healthcare system has lured away most of the faculty of the Philadelphia Heart Institute-one of the Delaware Valley's most comprehensive cardiovascular healthcare facilities-from a competing system.
The heart institute is an independent tax-exempt organization that has served for the past 15 years as the cardiac research, teaching and patient-care arm of Philadelphia's Presbyterian Medical Center.
On Jan. 1, 21 of the heart institute's 24 physicians joined Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation, Pittsburgh, bolstering the system's Delaware Valley cardiac business. The physicians will practice at facilities operated by Allegheny's Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University Hospital System in Philadelphia.
The deal creates one of the East Coast's largest cardiovascular practices, said Bernard L. Segal, M.D., the heart institute's director. Allegheny has agreed to provide financial support for the institute's full-time physicians and their laboratory and basic research needs, Segal said. However, neither he nor Allegheny would disclose the financial terms of the agreement.
The institute's long-time relationship with Presbyterian took a blow last July when the University of Pennsylvania Health System announced its agreement to purchase Presbyterian's assets. "Regrettably, there was no guarantee that, after two or three years, a tertiary-care facility in cardiology would be supported at Presbyterian," Segal said.
Penn's acquisition included the heart institute building, located on Presbyterian's campus, but excluded the institute physicians.
"We were interested in recruiting this group because it's a very high-quality group with excellent faculty," said Donald Kaye, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University Hospital System. Adding the heart institute physicians is expected to boost annual cardiac admissions by 2,000 and create a new stream of research grant funding.
While Penn sought to retain a select group of six or seven heart institute physicians who provide "primary-care" cardiology services, Segal's group rejected the offer because "they could not guarantee long-term support for our procedural physicians" who provide specialized services, he said.
However, three of the institute's physicians agreed to accept Penn's offer, the terms of which have not been disclosed. The physicians continue to see patients at Presbyterian while a Penn steering committee sorts out how to consolidate and divide services between Presbyterian and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Don Snell, who serves as executive director of both the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Presbyterian Medical Center of the University Pennsylvania Health System, said the physicians acquired by Allegheny accounted for 50% of Presbyterian's inpatient and outpatient cardiology volume. "It certainly is going to increase the market share of the Allegheny system," he acknowledged.
From July through November of 1995, cardiac admissions fell 24 short of Presbyterian's budgeted 1,513 admissions. During the same period, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania recorded 1,066 cardiac admissions, exceeding budgeted admissions by 909 for the five-month period.
Penn hopes to build its cardiology program by attracting community-based cardiologists to the heart institute, Snell said.
Meanwhile, one key issue remains unresolved. The two systems and the board of the heart institute are negotiating to see which institution will win the right to use the name "Philadelphia Heart Institute."