The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 14, 2014

BREAKING | Duke LifePoint pledges $500M investment in Conemaugh Health System through acquisition

Justin Dennis

JOHNSTOWN — Leaders of Conemaugh Health System and Duke LifePoint Healthcare announced Friday that the local medical institution would be acquired by the southern-based for-profit outfit.

Among the major points of the agreement: Duke LifePoint officials committed to investing half a billion dollars in the health system in the coming years, Conemaugh CEO Scott Becker said there will be no layoff of existing personnel and Conemaugh Health System will become a for-profit entity - contributing for the first time to the local tax base.

Duke LifePoint Hospitals operates 60 hospital campuses in 20 states and has more than 29,000 employees. It is a joint venture finalized about three years ago between Duke University and Brentwood Tennessee-based for-profit LifePoint Hospitals.

From the Duke LifePoint official website:

“Duke LifePoint Healthcare pursues acquisitions and shared ownership and governance of community hospitals that are looking to become part of a stable, outcomes-focused, well-funded system. Duke offers Duke LifePoint Healthcare’s hospitals clinical and quality guidance, as well as access to highly specialized medical services to help meet their communities’ needs. LifePoint provides a range of management, financial and operational resources, including access to capital for ongoing investments in new technology and facility renovations.

“Our hospitals are also able to share best practices with hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers throughout the Duke and LifePoint systems.”

One of the company’s most recent mergers, with Wilson Medical Center, finalized March 1, saw some kickback from the community. Critics were concerned with potential loss of local control and a shifting emphasis toward profit. The center’s former board of directors retained only 20 percent ownership. Reportedly, members of the new board are equally appointed by the community and the joint venture.

CNN Money ranked LifePoint Hospitals seventh among medical facilities - its highest ranked attribute was quality of management.

Revenues for LifePoint Hospitals hit $3.7 billion by the end of 2013, an 8.4 percent increase from 2012, according to the company’s year-end earnings release. The company estimates that number will reach $4 billion this year, with a forecasted earning per diluted share of $2.38 to $2.78.

Read more on the Conemaugh acquisition, including what this means for local schools and communities that will benefit from the tax boost the merger provides and more background on Duke LifePoint Healthcare in Saturday's Tribune-Democrat.

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at