By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
SHENANGO VALLEY —
Sharon Regional Health System already has a significant presence in Hermitage, but company Chief Executive Officer John R. “Jack” Janoso Jr. told city officials Thursday he expects that presence to grow under a new owner.
Community Health System Inc., a for-profit company, has bought the former nonprofit health system and pledged significant investment in expanding the company.
Growth is something Sharon Regional has not done in the five previous years, he said.
“It’s very important that we grow again,” Janoso said.
It’s too soon to have specifics, but Janoso said he has talked with Hermitage city officials “about locations and opportunities” to consolidate its outpatient services.
Janoso said City Manager Gary P. Hinkson and Assistant City Manager Gary M. Gulla have always been “extremely supportive and helpful” to him.
Demand for outpatient services has grown and will continue to grow, but officials want to have a plan in place if the ongoing beef between UPMC and Highmark leads to displaced health insurance recipients, he said.
“We have to be prepared for an influx of patients who can’t get care anywhere else,” Janoso said.
In terms of short-term investment, Sharon Regional has been approved for $3 million in capital funds for new wheelchairs, beds and other equipment that any hospital must have to function, Janoso said.
The new owner is not “capital restrained” and will be exploring the best ways to use those funds, whether it be by joint ventures, lease-to-own contracts, “anything to grow the footprint,” Janoso said.
Those joint ventures could include sharing a plastic surgeon with Trumbull Memorial Hospital, another Community Health System property, Janoso said.
Sharon does not have the demand to make it cost-effective to hire a plastic surgeon, but still needs regular access to one, said Janoso, speaking Thursday before the Hermitage Community and Economic Development Commission.
The new owner, aside from having ready money to invest, treasures quality of care as much as growth, Janoso said. That means expanded services will follow the growth, he said.
Sharon Regional shrunk the ranks of its personnel before the sale, and Janoso added that he cannot say there won’t be job cuts somewhere down the line. Changes in the economy can never be sufficiently predicted to make a pledge not to cut jobs, he said.
“We don’t have any imminent layoffs coming,” Janoso said.
He predicted the company actually will add staff as the growth plans play out.
“I see nothing but prosperity for jobs and job opportunities,” he said.
Janoso did pledge that “the school of nursing isn’t going anywhere.”
It remains valuable in generating nurses, a job field always in short supply, but will have to be able to offer more, Janoso said. The goal is to align it with a college or university so that it can offer a four-year degree. The hospital needs more higher-level nurses, he said.
If there’s a drawback to the new corporate structure, it’s that decisions will be made in a much longer time frame.
“Things that used to take 15 minutes now take two weeks,” he said.