LEWISTOWN As the community continues to fight the potential merger of Lewistown Hospital with a still unknown entity, the hospital Board of Directors prepares for the September meeting where final decisions regarding the merger will be made, Kay Hamilton, president and CEO of Lewistown Hospital told The Sentinel on Monday.
Though Hamilton declined to comment on whether Geisinger will be a topic at the monthly meeting, Frank Trembulak, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Geisinger Health System, confirms there has been discussion between Lewistown Hospital management and Geisinger.
"I wouldn't say it's a merger, but there have been discussions, as there have been with numerous medical facilities in the area," Trembulak said. "It's safe to say that (Geisinger is) out and about, but usually, it's by request."
Geisinger has been an established part of the medical services in Lewistown for the past 30 years, Trembulak said. When Geisinger primary care services originally joined the community, it was actually located on the hospital campus, he added.
"We have heard about the community uproar in response to the possible merger with Geisinger and I find the complaints unwarranted," Trembulak said. "We truly don't understand the rationale or logic behind the motivation to fight the hospital and its possible decision. Geisinger has had a long-standing relationship and commitment to Lewistown."
It is important to remember, Trembulak said, that Lewistown Hospital is not-for-profit and has certain responsibilities to the community. The hospital is required to make the decision that is best for the Lewistown area and are conducting the necessary research to do so, he said.
"Lewistown Hospital is currently in the process of evaluating the future," Trembulak said. "They have to decide where the value is in associating with certain entities."
The hospital board meeting is schedule for the end of September and Hamilton anticipates releasing information to the public by the beginning of October, she said. As previously mentioned at the public hearing in August, the hospital has refrained from sharing information on merger choices due to confidentiality agreements, she added.
"Once decisions are made, I look forward to sharing information and being open with the community," Hamilton said.
There will be two main discussions at the upcoming meeting: whether or not to go forward with a merger and, if the decision is to move forward, which company to go with, Hamilton said. Though the hospital is not planning on holding additional public meetings during September, there will be a community meeting after all decisions are made, she added.