Health systems pursue alliance

CUMBERLAND, Md. — Western Maryland Health System’s board has signed a non-binding letter of intent with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to pursue an affiliation to integrate WMHS into the UPMC system.

Throughout the next few months, both parties will engage in additional due diligence, research and discussions to work toward a definitive agreement.

While the process is subject to customary regulatory review, hospital leaders hope to complete the affiliation this year.

According to the release, the affiliation would offer residents access to enhanced healthcare services, leverage UPMC’s clinical expertise and help recruit more top doctors to the area.

A $19 billion health care provider and insurer, UPMC is one of the nation’s largest integrated health systems. As both a provider and insurer, UPMC integrates 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.5 million-member insurance services division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania.

Western Maryland Health System was formed in 1996 to strengthen the healthcare services in Western Maryland and the surrounding communities in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In November 2009, WMHS opened a new state-of-the-art hospital on Willowbrook Road in Cumberland, Md.