Excela CEO John Sphon doesn’t expect patients or staff to experience much of a difference in how they access or provide care as the Greensburg-based hospital system moves forward with a merger with Butler Health System.
Sphon opened up about the plan on Friday when the two organizations announced they had entered into a definitive agreement. It followed a June 1 announcement and moves the two systems toward finalizing the deal, which is expected to bring in more than $1 billion in revenue.
“With this merger, it will actually improve our medical staff. (We will) be able to provide additional services and expand our scope,” he said. “Both organizations provide a very high quality of care in their own right. As we combine, we will be able to improve it.”
For patients, it’s not likely that someone in Excela’s region will have to travel to Butler to see a doctor, Sphon said.
“Our doctors and patients will be able to see their same primary care doctor and specialists,” he said. “We don’t see people having to go somewhere else to receive care unless there is a specialty area that one area can offer more than another.”
Sphon does not anticipate any changes in either organization’s facilities, he said, nor are immediate changes in personnel or types of insurance assumed, although more detailed plans “are something that will be evaluated as we move forward.”
“We’re now in the definitive agreement stage, and when we get to a point of when we close, that’s when we can more thoroughly address some of our strategic planning going forward. But it will be post-closure,” he said.
Sphon said he hopes the merger will attract additional talent to the new organization’s medical staff, as well as benefit Butler, Clarion and Westmoreland counties’ regional economies. Excela is the top private employer in Westmoreland County with approximately 4,800 employees, and Butler Health System is the largest employer in Butler County and the largest health care employer in Clarion County, employing 3,000 people.
“We’re both major employers in (our) areas, and we think the economic impact will also be very significant as we try to maintain and cope with the headwinds we’re facing now,” he said. “We think this will be an opportunity to attract and retain doctors and nurses.”
The new health system does not plan to have a central corporate office, opting instead to spread its managers across several hospitals.
“Given the virtual aspects of things and that nature, you can’t lead from behind. You have to be with the people and you have to be present,” said Sphon. “We felt that was more valuable when we started this new health system.”
The combined Excela and Butler Health system will become the third largest health care system in the region, but still remains smaller than both UPMC and AHN.
“This provides us with the necessary size and scale to increase our relevance and significance in this region’s market,” said Sphon. “How big you have to be, we don’t know, but we think this merger of what I consider these two strong, community-based, high-quality organizations will benefit us both.”
• Merger between Excela and Butler Health will be completed by the end of the year
• Excela, Butler Health Systems Announce Merger, Creating Region’s 3rd Hospital Giant
Julia Maruca is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org.