Abing­ton Health to ac­quire North Penn VNA

North Penn Life - - Front Page - By Linda Finarelli lfinarelli@mont­gomerynews.com

Abing­ton Health an­nounced Tues­day that it plans to ac­quire the North Penn Vis­it­ing Nurse As­so­ci­a­tion, ex­pand­ing its home health care ser­vices in a greater ge­o­graphic area.

The par­ent of Abing­ton Memo­rial and Lans­dale hos­pi­tals said it signed a let­ter of in­tent Nov. 2 to bring the NPVNA un­der its cor­po­rate um­brella. The trans­ac­tion is expected be com­pleted in April 2013, fol­low­ing a 60-day due dili­gence pe­riod.

“We are ex­cited to ex­plore the op­por­tu­nity to bring this or­ga­ni­za­tion to Abing­ton Health as part of our strat­egy to form part­ner­ships in prepa­ra­tion for the full im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Af­ford­able Care Act,” Abing­ton Health Pres­i­dent and CEO Lau­rence M. Merlis said in a Nov. 13 press re­lease.

The ac­qui­si­tion will al­low Abing­ton Health to “in­te­grate and ex­pand as more health care will take place at home,” Merlis said in a Wed­nes­day in­ter­view. Go­ing for­ward, care will be pro­vided at “the most ap­pro­pri­ate needs and level,” he said. “The trends in medicine do al­low many pa­tients to have care on an out­pa­tient or home care or of­fice-based” ba­sis, rather than in the hospi­tal.

“Our or­ga­ni­za­tion is able to pro­vide a full con­tin­uum of care,” Merlis said. In ad­di­tion to its own home health care ser­vices, “this is an­other part of the mar­ket to part­ner with an or­ga­ni­za­tion that has a longterm qual­ity rep­u­ta­tion in home health care.”

The NPVNA pro­vides ser­vices in the greater Lans­dale area and al­ready works with Lans­dale Hospi­tal, Merlis said.

“It pro­vides a lot of syn­ergy,” he said of the ac­qui­si­tion.

Lo­cated on the same cam­pus as Lans­dale Hospi­tal, the NPVNA has “al­ways had a pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with the hospi­tal [for­merly North Penn and Cen­tral Mont­gomery] there,” NPVNA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Kitty Fitzger­ald said Wed­nes­day. “We are re­spected for our strength in the community as a health care provider and as a pre­ferred provider for health care ser­vices.”

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing home health care and hospice ser­vices, NPVNA of­fers adult day ser­vices, chronic care man­age­ment, Meals on Wheels, a chil­dren’s clinic and den­tal clinic, health ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, sup­port groups, health screen­ings and CPR train­ing.

The de­ci­sion to part­ner with “a well-re­spected or­ga­ni­za­tion will po­si­tion them in re­sponse to the Af­ford­able Care Act and health care in the fu­ture,” Fitzger­ald said. “Abing­ton was a won­der­ful choice for vis­it­ing nurses.”

The health care re­form act is de­signed to “pro­vide pa­tients with more seam­less, ef­fi­cient health care; it can im­prove the qual­ity of out­comes,” she said. By align­ing with other providers, “in­te­grat­ing home and acute care will ben­e­fit out­comes and be­ing able to share in­for­ma­tion will ben­e­fit out­comes.”

The 100 NPVNA nurses, ther­a­pists and home health aides will be­come Abing­ton Health em­ploy­ees, join­ing the 200 em­ploy­ees in Abing­ton’s home health depart­ment who pro­vide home care and hospice to res­i­dents in parts of Bucks, Mont­gomery and Philadel­phia coun­ties.

As part of Abing­ton Health, the VNA’s pro­grams “will be ap­pro­pri­ately aligned with pro­grams in the Abing­ton sys­tem,” said Fitzger­ald, who will be­come di­rec­tor of home care for all of Abing­ton Health. The merger of the two will mean a “re­or­ga­ni­za­tion and re­align­ment” for the vis­it­ing nurses as­so­ci­a­tion, but there will be no lay­offs, she said.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to see growth,” Merlis said. “We ex­pect in time to hire ad­di­tional peo­ple.”

“One of the things or­ga­ni­za­tions are look­ing to do is come to­gether; a cer­tain syn­ergy and scale makes sense,” he said. “When cul­tures are so sim­i­lar … the mis­sion and pur­pose, there are ad­van­tages to both or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

Abing­ton had at­tempted a larger merger ear­lier this year, an­nounc­ing a joint ven­ture with Holy Redeemer Hospi­tal June 26, but that plan was dropped in mid-July fol­low­ing a pub­lic and in­ter­nal back­lash to the Catholic hospi­tal’s in­sis­tence that the deal pre­clude Abing­ton Memo­rial Hospi­tal from pro­vid­ing abor­tion ser­vices.

There will be “other part­ner­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties for Abing­ton … we’re all look­ing for ways to col­lab­o­rate,” Merlis said, but the health sys­tem is “not ne­go­ti­at­ing with any­one at this time.”

The ac­qui­si­tion will en­able Abing­ton Health to grow its ser­vices and pro­vide ad­di­tional re­sources to the community “in our fo­cus on the fu­ture of health care,” he said.

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