By Jason KUROSU
The University of Southern California has officially purchased Verdugo Hills Hospital, completing a merger several years in the making. The move will establish a presence for USC in the North Glendale area, while also providing substantial improvements to Verdugo Hills Hospital as it merges with USC’s Keck School of Medicine.
The merger has already yielded changes to the hospital’s landscaping, signs and lobby, but further improvements and additions are planned. According to Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health, USC will be dedicating $30 million to improving Verdugo Hills’ emergency room, as well as expanding the hospital’s obstetrics units, adding a cardiac catherization lab and upgrading the information systems so that Verdugo Hills and USC may easily exchange patient information if needed.
“We really want to focus on quality of care,” said Jackiewicz.
Jackiewicz said that the partnership allows each hospital to utilize resources that the hospitals may have lacked before the merger. Keck Hospital lacks an emergency room, but now can utilize the emergency room at Verdugo Hills, while ER patients can be evaluated at Verdugo Hills and then transferred to Keck Hospital for treatment unavailable at Verdugo Hills, such as cardiac surgery or neurosurgery.
USC faculty physicians will join the staff at Verdugo Hills, but Jackiewicz said that this is no way will negatively impact the current hospital staff.
“Our intention is not to displace anyone, but to work very closely with the doctors at Verdugo Hills.”
“Verdugo Hills Hospital has been an integral and valued part of the Foothill communities for decades and we intend to retain that important connection to our patients and the residents we serve,” stated Len LaBella, CEO of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. “This affiliation with USC helps to take us forward in a powerful way. It enables us to provide key services and advantages that not only help us remain viable, but to thrive in a challenging health-care environment that demands constant evolution.”
For Verdugo Hills’ part, the financial improvements played a role in the decision, with changes to healthcare reform increasing costs. Many smaller, independent hospitals have partnered with other hospitals to combat lower revenue, as well as provide lower costs to their patients.
“Verdugo Hills offered us an opportunity to provide the best possible care at the lowest costs,” said Jackiewicz.
A press release issued in March by USC, when the merger was officially announced, states, “The partnership positions Keck Medical Center of USC and Verdugo Hills Hospital to better meet the challenges and opportunities created by healthcare reform, and will expand access to world-class healthcare services in the community.”