Lewistown Hospital says that, if left alone, its future looks less than rosy. With that situation facing them, officials with the local health care provider have been looking for some time for a partner to carry a good share of the weight, and thereby keep operations moving right along.
That brings us to the present. In a move that should have surprised no one, the hospital is merging with Geisinger Health Systems. Of course that does not please everyone - what solution would, in this case? - but it seems to make sense to us.
Perfection? Of course not. It would have been oh so nice for Lewistown Hospital to carry on independently, as it has for many years. Most folks would prefer 100-percent local control, all things being equal. The catch here is that things are far from equal, especially when you look down the road. It's a good bet that if the hospital needs help now, the need will only increase.
Given that the need is there, then why not Geisinger? Got any better ideas? The hospital cast its net upon the waters and it would seem that the Danville-based provider, which already has a strong local presence, is the answer.
Speaking of answers, there are still plenty of those waiting in regard to the details of this merger. Transparency has been promised, and surely this community will hold officials to that promise. People are down on what they're not up on, so it will only benefit all concerned to forget about secrets and keep the information coming.
Does the community at large really support a Lewistown Hospital-Geisinger Health Systems merger? While it's far from scientific, an online poll we've been running since Dec. 4 shows 55 percent of 778 respondents favor the merger, and another 15 percent said it doesn't matter to them. On the other side, 30 percent expressed disapproval.
Polls don't hold the answer, any more than unanswered questions or unfounded criticism. What we do know at this point is that a merger is taking place but much work needs to be done. As plans proceed, we ask that officials from both Geisinger and Lewistown Hospital keep all of us informed. And we wish both sides good luck. We all will benefit from a merger that provides quality, affordable health care for this corner of Pennsylvania.