Private Group Buys Troubled Allegheny System

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Science  09 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5387, pp. 227
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5387.227d

Researchers at the Allegheny University of the Health Sciences are breathing a sigh of relief over the sale last week of most of its parent Allegheny health care system. A private hospital chain, Tenet Healthcare Corp. of Santa Barbara, California, picked up the system's eight debt-ridden Philadelphia hospitals for a bargain price of $345 million. Tenet has pledged to retain close ties with the university and is putting $60 million into helping it become self-sustaining.

The Allegheny parent organization filed for bankruptcy in July, claiming $1.5 billion in debt (Science, 28 August, p. 1258). The university, which comprises MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine and several professional schools, will now be managed by Philadelphia's Drexel University, with the possibility of a merger down the line.

“There was great relief here among the faculty and especially among the students” that the university is likely to survive intact, says medical school professor and gerontology researcher Vincent J. Cristofalo. But he fears that under the new regime, “there won't be the commitment to research that there has been in the past.” He says research centers such as his are to be folded into departments and will be losing lab space as well as institutional support. Other faculty members are anxiously appraising their options. Says one who asked to remain anonymous: “What we say around here is anybody who can leave is leaving.”

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