Geisinger Health System on Wednesday inked a deal to acquire its first critical access hospital.
The health system and Jersey Shore Hospital, a 25-bed critical access facility in Pennsylvania, signed a letter of intent to merge.
Under terms of the deal, Geisinger will take on Jersey Shore's assets, revenue and debt. The hospital's named will also likely be changed to Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital, and it will be the smallest hospital in the system.
Jersey Shore, located in rural northern Pennsylvania, has suffered from operating losses over the last few years. It has also struggled to recruit and retain physicians.
"With all of the challenges facing healthcare today, especially in Pennsylvania, it is really difficult to thrive without being part of a system," said David Shannon, president of Jersey Shore.
He said the affiliation with Geisinger will help Jersey Shore maintain its financial stability as well as offer access to more complex services. Jersey Shore will be able to transfer patients to Geisinger's Level 1 trauma center and children's hospital. The hospital will also have access to Geisinger's physicians and specialists.
Jersey Shore employs 300 workers, including about 12 physicians and physician assistants. Geisinger will retain all of the hospital's employees.
Thomas Sokola, chief administrative officer of Geisinger, said the merger allows the integrated system to better compete with its rival Pittsburgh-based UPMC. "This is another access point," to our services, Sokola said.
The intended merger with Jersey Shore was announced just one week after Geisinger struck a joint venture with Highmark Health to expand access to its services throughout north central Pennsylvania.
The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to take a few months.