In addition to continuing talks with Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring in hopes of creating a Blair County-wide health care system, Altoona Regional Health System has been talking for almost a year with larger potential partners.
They include University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Highmark Inc. and Geisinger Health System, Altoona Regional spokesman Dave Cuzzolina said Monday.
Those three are among the larger potential affiliates which have "share[d] their visions," with Altoona, Cuzzolina said.
The discussions began about nine months ago, he said.
The Mirror has learned that a decisive board vote on partnership with a larger hospital is imminent.
Cuzzolina, however, wouldn't confirm that.
"Our board has not set a deadline for making any decision regarding a partner," he said.
Geisinger has previously spoken of its interest in Altoona Regional.
"[But] we do not know when Altoona may make a decision," Geisinger spokeswoman Sue Baranik said.
Highmark - an insurer "developing an integrated delivery network in western Pennsylvania" - has been talking with doctors and community hospitals "throughout the region to identify health care providers that share Highmark's vision," spokesman Michael Weinstein said.
But Weinstein declined to say whether those discussions included Altoona.
UPMC didn't provide a statement.
Affiliation discussions "are accelerating in Pennsylvania and nationwide as small and mid-sized community hospitals and health care systems seek ways to meet growing financial challenges and the requirements of health care reform," Altoona Regional stated in a news release.
Altoona previously announced the smaller-scale talks with Nason, who declined to comment.