ViaHealth, Rochester, N.Y., called off a proposed merger with Unity Health System, also in Rochester, saying in a news release that after careful deliberation it "was not the right time to proceed further." A ViaHealth spokeswoman said the system studied many factors over several months but was unable to disclose specific reasons for its decision because of a confidentiality agreement with Unity. Unity officials said while they respect ViaHealth's decision, they still believe a merger made sense "in light of the ongoing challenges faced by healthcare providers" in the state. The competing systems announced their intent to merge in November 2003 after several months of preliminary planning and a recommendation in favor of merging from Deloitte Consulting. Officials said at the time that after five years a merger could improve the bottom line by as much as $25 million. Two-hospital, 826-bed ViaHealth lost $13 million on $515 million in revenue in 2002. Unity, which operates a 441-bed hospital, earned $4.8 million on $279 million in revenue in 2002. Both hospitals finished 2003 with surpluses, according to the Associated Press. -- by Cinda Becker
N.Y. system calls off merger after months planning
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