CUMBERLAND — Chelsea Baker smiled when she got her new purple and white work badge holder that simply stated, “UPMC.”

Baker, a phlebotomist, has worked for the Western Maryland Health System for seven years.

On Thursday, she and hundreds of her coworkers attended a celebration of the facility’s integration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The event, held at the system’s hospital auditorium, included UPMC corporate and UPMC Western Maryland executives, representatives of officials including Gov. Larry Hogan, and local community leaders including Allegany County Board of Commissioners President Jake Shade. 

“I’m excited to see what (UPMC) can bring to the area,” Baker said of potentially more jobs, additional medical specialties and in-network doctors. 

James Wood, an IT worker for the local health system, said he looks forward to the growth of the new merger.

“I’m excited to see what happens,” he said. 

Leslie Davis, UPMC Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UPMC Health Services, announced a $90 million investment to enhance services and facilities at the local health system.

UPMC, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania and biggest nongovernmental employer in that state, integrates 89,000 employees, 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites.

“This is the first one in Maryland,” Davis said. “You are a perfect fit for us. Hopefully, we are a perfect fit for you.”

According to company officials, in the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.2 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid $587 million in federal, state and local taxes.

“Western Maryland is a beautiful community,” Davis said. “I am thrilled to be here today.”

UPMC Western Maryland Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Nancy Adams said the integration will include an increase in clinical specialties and expand oncology expertise via connection to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Dr. John Pappas is president of the UMPC Western Maryland medical staff and serves on the board of directors.

He talked of access to UPMC’s resources and clinical and scientific expertise. 

Providing cutting-edge care in a rural hospital can be challenging, he said and talked of plans to expand primary and specialty care. 

UPMC Western Maryland President Barry Ronan talked of opportunities to provide world-class healthcare in Cumberland.

UPMC Western Maryland employs 2,300 people, he said and talked of opportunities for workers to grow in their careers.

“My first job was cleaning bed pans,” Ronan said and smiled.

He also talked of bringing more surgeons to the local hospital.

Students from Allegany Community College and Frostburg State University will be welcome at the newly integrated system, he said.

“We are always open to internships,” Ronan said.

Roughly 80 experts will consider clinical aspects of the integration, which is expected to take two to three years to complete.

“I couldn’t think of a better group (of people) to meet the challenges,” Ronan said.

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