Verdugo Hills Hospital, USC merger awaits final OK from state

For the first time in its 40-year history, Verdugo Hills Hospital is no longer independent, announcing on Tuesday that it has completed its merger with USC’s Keck Medical Center.

The partnership, first explored by Verdugo Hills board members at a meeting in June 2012, still needs approval from the California Attorney General’s Office before it is finalized.

Len LaBella, chief executive officer and president of Verdugo Hills Hospital, said in a statement that the merger would allow the 158-bed facility to expand its clinical services while having access to greater resources to improve existing services.

“Verdugo’s expertise in primary care combined with the medical sub-specialty capabilities of a prestigious academic medical center and university complement the exceptional medical staff, customer service and quality care that resides at Verdugo,” LaBella said in the statement.

Verdugo Hills primarily services the area from Tujunga to La Cañada and employs more than 750 people. It also has long-standing ties to local charities.

In his statement, LaBella sought to assuage concerns that the merger would erode the hospital’s community ties.

“This affiliation will expand…and ultimately preserve Verdugo as the healthcare facility of choice for the foothill communities,” LaBella said.

Tom Jackiewicz, chief executive officer of USC Health, which oversees the Keck Medical Center, said in the statement that the university’s specialty services in areas such as orthopedic surgery, cancer, cardiovascular issues, neurology and neurosurgery would complement the smaller hospital’s capabilities.

The Keck Medical Center, launched in 2011, is comprised of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital.

Verdugo Hills joins a trend of smaller independent hospitals looking join with larger hospitals or chains.

Gerald Kominski — a professor of public health and management, and director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research — said when the merger plans were announced last year that smaller facilities are looking to address softening demand for inpatient services while taking advantage of the bulk purchasing power and robust operations possessed by larger hospitals.

-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal


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