Verdugo Hills Hospital in merger talks

Verdugo Hills Hospital is in merger talks with other health care providers in the region, including Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

Verdugo Hills spokeswoman Celine Petrossian confirmed Wednesday that the independently owned, 158-bed hospital on the border of Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge is in discussions regarding mergers or strategic alliances. In a prepared statement, Petrossian said a change could “improve our ability to meet the challenges of healthcare reform.”

“Securing our future insures good stewardship of our responsibility to our donors, our physicians, and our hospital staff, but most importantly, it strengthens our ability to serve our patient community,” she said.

Glendale Adventist Chief Executive Kevin Roberts said that a merger would be a way for Glendale Adventist to better serve its current patient base while expanding in the foothills communities.

“We have 700 doctors and many of them have privileges up there, many of them practice up there, so they understand the differences between the hospitals,” he said. “They would benefit if we were able to align our services and were able to work strategically to serve the overall foothills community.”

Glendale Adventist is part of the Adventist Health network that includes 17 hospitals in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. Roberts said an independent hospitals like Verdugo Hills face new economic challenges as the Affordable Care Act passed in 2008 is implemented.

“There are some really tough times coming. Health care reform is not an illusion,” said Roberts. “Smaller hospitals, I applaud the fact that they have survived as long as they have in this marketplace.”

USC Health Sciences, which operates a dozen hospitals and health centers in Los Angeles and plans to open a center in Pasadena in April, may also be seeking a merger with Verdugo Hills. Leslie Ridgeway, a spokeswoman for USC Health Sciences, declined to comment specifically on Verdugo Hills.

“There’s nothing I can share, but we are always looking at spreading services in other areas,” she said.

Verdugo Hills Hospital opened in 1972 and serves roughly 69,000 patients a year.

-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

Twitter: @ValleySunDan

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