Charleston Area Medical Center, Mon Health complete merger to form Vandalia Health

The two West Virginia organizations announced their merger plans several months ago. Charleston and Mon Health facilities will retain their identities.

Two West Virginia health systems have completed their merger.

Five months after announcing their plans, the Charleston Area Medical Center and Mon Health announced they have secured regulatory approval and the merger is a done deal.

The organizations have formed to create a single system called Vandalia Health. The Charleston and Mon Health facilities will retain their own identities.

David Ramsey, the president and CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center, will serve as the president and CEO of Vandalia Health.

The systems said the final agreement was signed Aug. 31 and publicly announced Sept. 1.

“Our decades of high quality, nationally recognized programs and services are now brought together to continue our efforts to reduce costs, enhance access and improve outcomes for the communities we serve. We will continue our legacy of service and renowned care delivery as a collaborative system of care,” Ramsey said in a news release.

The Charleston Area Medical Center is a nonprofit, 956-bed regional referral center. CAMC employs nearly 8,000 workers and more than 700 doctors have admitting privileges.

Mon Health operates Mon Health Medical Center, Mon Health Preston Memorial Hospital, Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, and Mon Health Marion Neighborhood Hospital.

Mon Health Medical Center, Mon Health’s flagship, is a 164-bed hospital based in Morgantown, W.Va. The hospital also serves patients in southwestern Pennsylvania. Stonewall Jackson is a 70-bed medical and surgical hospital, while Preston Memorial is a 25-bed critical access hospital. The Marion Neighborhood Hospital is a small format hospital that opened in December 2021.

The two organizations describe the transaction as a full merger. CAMC didn’t buy Mon Health and the systems said no money changed hands in the transaction.

David Goldberg, Mon Health System’s president and CEO, will serve as executive vice president of Vandalia Health.

“Together, we can offer enhanced care to a broader community than we could independently made up of the very best providers, clinicians and staff all focused on the communities we serve one person at a time,” Goldberg said in a statement. “Our cultures and mindset are so similar built upon programs and services of care second to none locally, regionally and nationally.”

When CAMC and Mon Health first announced the merger plans in March, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, the powerful Democrat based in West Virginia, offered his full support. In a statement, he said the merger “will further help to improve access to healthcare in our rural areas.”

Vandalia said it will be filling openings to meet the needs of patients and both CAMC and Mon Health have many job openings that need to be filled.

The creation of Vandalia Health comes during a slow time for hospital mergers.

In the first half of 2022, there were 25 hospital deals announced, according to Kaufman Hall, a consulting firm. That roughly matches the pace of 2021, when only 49 hospital consolidations took place, compared to 79 in the previous year.

Industry analysts said the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed merger activity, with health systems focused on dealing with patients and labor shortages. The Federal Trade Commission has also looked closely at hospital deals, particularly proposed mergers involving hospitals in competing markets. The FTC has opposed several proposed mergers and acquisitions recently, leading some systems to drop their plans.

Analysts say they expect to see more hospital merger activity in the coming months. Hospitals may be looking for partners to expand services, while some smaller systems with financial problems may need to find partners to stay afloat.