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USC closes deal to purchase Verdugo Hills Hospital

by Shirley Shin
The addition of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital expands the Keck Medicine of USC’s system of community-based services. (Photo/Philip Channing)
The addition of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital expands the Keck Medicine of USC’s system of community-based services. (Photo/Philip Channing)

USC has expanded its medical services in the Foothill communities of Los Angeles County with the acquisition of Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-bed hospital in Glendale, Calif. The deal, which closed on July 16, adds the new USC Verdugo Hills Hospital to Keck Medicine of USC.

USC Verdugo Hills Hospital will provide residents of the Glendale-La Cañada Flintridge areas greater access to world-class specialized care, clinical trials and breakthrough technology while retaining the convenience and personal touch of a community hospital.

“USC and Verdugo Hills Hospital both have long and enduring histories of providing vital medical care to our local communities,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “By joining forces, we will significantly strengthen both of our organizations, and we will find innovative new ways to deliver the very best patient care to the people of the Foothills and throughout Southern California.”

The acquisition, which promises $30 million in capital investments to improve Verdugo Hills Hospital facilities, received broad support from leaders in the Foothill communities, as well as those directly impacted by the venture.

USC, one of the world’s leading private research universities, established its present-day medical system with the purchase of two hospitals from Tenet Healthcare Corp. in 2009 — Keck Hospital of USC (formerly USC University Hospital) and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. In 2011, with a $150 million gift from the W. M. Keck Foundation, USC launched Keck Medicine of USC, which now comprises the three hospitals, a number of campus-based specialty clinics, five community-based ambulatory care clinics, a faculty physician practice (USC Care Medical Group) of more than 600 doctors and the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the oldest medical school in Southern California.

The USC-Verdugo partnership leverages the strengths of each organization and provides valuable benefits to Southern California patients. Keck Medicine offers the clinical excellence of an academic medical center and medical specialties that consistently rate highly in national rankings, such as the “Best Hospital” rankings in U.S. News & World Report. Verdugo Hills Hospital has a 40-year legacy of serving the Foothill communities, providing a 24-hour emergency department, primary stroke center, maternity/labor and delivery, cardiac rehabilitation, and imaging and diagnostic services. The addition of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital expands and strengthens the Keck Medicine system of community-based services.

“This was the right move for both organizations, particularly in light of the changes that are transforming health care and how it’s delivered,” said Thomas E. Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health. “Bringing together these two very strong provider organizations creates a unique opportunity for residents in the Foothill communities to receive exceptional patient care from the physicians they know and trust, and from those who bring additional medical expertise from one of the world’s leading academic medical centers.”

The challenges created by health care reform played a role in the decision to partner, as smaller organizations such as Verdugo Hills Hospital face rising costs and the demand by payers to do more with less. Keck Medicine offers the size, resources and the innovation to improve care and reduce costs, needed by community hospitals to remain viable and competitive. An integrated network, such as that created by Verdugo Hills Hospital joining Keck Medicine, helps patients get well and stay healthy by providing the right type of care in the right place at the right time. In addition, their caregivers are better able to track outcomes and see the “big picture” when it comes to their health.

USC has already made significant initial investments resulting in visible changes to the familiar façade of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. New exterior signage, fresh landscaping, and upgrades to the hospital’s lobby and other interiors have kicked off the first of many planned enhancements, and all have been met with enthusiasm from employees, physicians, volunteers and patients. A series of celebrations is planned, including a community-wide event in September, to commemorate the alliance and showcase the new hospital.

“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,” said 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.”

Additional clinical services, facility improvements and community activities are expected to be announced in the coming months.

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