The merger is expected to go into effect this fall.By Amy Wadas

MONONGAHELA, Pa. (KDKA) — Monongahela Valley Hospital is merging with Penn Highlands Healthcare, a health system based in DuBois, Clearfield County.

The Board of Directors for both entities announced the merger Wednesday after signing an agreement to integrate Mon Valley Hospital into the Penn Highlands Healthcare system.

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In a statement, Chairman of Mon Valley Hospital Board of Trustees R. Carlyn Belczyk, said, “During the last 119 years, Monongahela Valley Hospital has been a vital part of our community. We needed to examine how we could transform our health system through clinical, technical and strategic innovation to deliver tomorrow’s healthcare today. The new affiliation with Penn Highlands Healthcare will help us to continue to provide the high-quality care that our patients expect while expanding our services at the same time.”

The 200-bed facility has stood alone in the Monongahela community since 1972. However, in just a matter of months, it will join Penn Highland and become its seventh hospital in the health care system.

“Being part of a larger system will add the ability to keep programs we have, expand upon some of them,” said President and CEO of Mon Valley Hospital Louis Panza Jr.

Panza said one plan is to add more outpatient facilities in the surrounding communities, with a goal of attracting and retaining high-quality doctors and medical staff.

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“For patients, that means convenience of services. It’s closer to their homes where they live, making it easier to access those services without coming to four walls of a hospital,” said Panza.

This is something people in the community said they need.

“They need more outpatient facilities. It’s good for people that can’t come to the hospital to be closer to where they live,” said Roscoe resident Kathy Viviani.

“More things that are closer is easier for people to get to instead of trying to find rides back and forth for people who can’t drive, said California resident Brandon Doerfler.

One of the main reasons why Mon Valley’s CEO said it went with Penn Highlands is due to its local feel.

“They believe in rural health care. They believe in community health care and those are the same hallmarks of Mon Valley Hospital,” said Panza.

Panza wants to stress that this transition will be seamless. Patients can keep on using the same insurance provider, and the staff won’t change.

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The merge is expected to take place in the fall of 2021.