That's according to Altoona Regional spokesman Dave Cuzzolina who spoke about partnership talks between the two health systems. Cuzzolina says a signficant amount of the local hospital's income which comes from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements is shrinking and the situation is not expected to improve.
He says however, a partnership with UPMC could mean access to new funding, growth in employees, and services in the Altoona area that patients used to have to seek in Pittsburgh.
Meantime, employees are concerned about the possible changes. SEIU President for nurses, Paula Stellabotte says,"remember these are our priorities, good quality care here in this area. We don't want anything outsourced. We want to keep the jobs here, keep the care here, keep the doctors , here make sure the docs have access to the hospital.
Altoona regional employs 2500 people and 1800 of them are union members. The two unions are asking community members to sign an online petition calling for a transparency in the affiliation talks.
Talks between Altoona Regional and UPMC are the next step in the affiliation process, but the local hospital says no final decisions have yet been made. Altoona Regional says there's no deadline to complete the process, but employees say they've been told it could take six months to a year.