PA Hospital with Minority Owner Joins New Regional Partner

The Huntingdon, PA-based J.C. Blair Health System has officially joined Penn Highlands Healthcare, effective June 1. J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, a 71-bed, non-profit community hospital, is now known as Penn Highlands Huntingdon, making it the fifth hospital in the Penn Highlands Healthcare system. Juniper advised J.C. Blair on the transaction.

Juniper designed for J.C. Blair an effective and efficient process tailored for its complex circumstances that achieved the key partnership objectives set forth by the Board of Directors:

  • Protect and expand high-quality acute care services and jobs in the community
  • Preserve a meaningful local role in the hospital’s governance

Juniper specifically tailored the partnership process to address J.C. Blair’s unique ownership structure, given that a separate, large regional health system owned a minority interest in the hospital. The transaction included concurrent negotiations with the minority owner to ensure J.C. Blair’s full membership interest was conveyed to Penn Highlands Healthcare, meeting the needs of the hospital and all constituents involved in the transaction.

“This affiliation represents an exciting new chapter in our growth,” said Steven M. Fontaine, Chief Executive Officer of Penn Highlands Healthcare in a press release. “Just like our other hospitals, J.C. Blair is deeply rooted in its community and is known for providing high-quality care to patients close to home. Now, through our partnership, we will not only continue to provide the services residents of Huntingdon County and surrounding communities have come to depend on, but we also will bring access to the advanced care and treatments available through Penn Highlands Healthcare.”

The boards of directors of both Penn Highlands Healthcare and J.C. Blair signed a letter of intent in October 2018 that paved the way for this affiliation. After rigorous due diligence, research and discussion, a definitive agreement was signed and received official regulatory review and approval.

“As Penn Highlands Huntingdon, we will continue in the spirit of our founder, Kate Fisher Blair, and her husband, John Chalmers Blair, our tradition of providing the highest standard of health care to the residents of Huntingdon County and surrounding communities,” said J.C. Blair Board Chairman Fred Price in the release. “We look forward to maintaining and expanding our key programs and services, attracting and retaining high quality physicians in a wide range of specialties, and preserving jobs in the county. Penn Highlands is a good fit for our organization and community.”

“This affiliation will provide a great opportunity for J.C. Blair to build upon its strength as a leader in health care services while also maintaining our role as a major employer in the county,” remarked J.C. Blair President and CEO Joe Myers. “An affiliation with Penn Highlands will create a sustainable model for our local hospital as well as bring additional resources and expertise to Huntingdon County.”

According to Dick Pfingstler, Chairman of the Penn Highlands Healthcare Board, the affiliation of J.C. Blair will expand the geographic footprint of Penn Highlands Healthcare while strengthening its ability to recruit providers and further grow many of its specialty services.

“We are thrilled to strengthen our organization through the addition of Penn Highlands Huntingdon,” Pfingstler was quoted as saying. “Creating even more health care access and delivery throughout our region aligns perfectly with our longstanding mission to serve our communities.”