Without its acquisition by Highmark Inc., West Penn Allegheny Health System would have been forced to shutter West Penn Hospital by this fall, the chairman of the health system's board of directors said today. "We have been starved for capital," David L. McClenahan, chairman of the West Penn Allegheny board of directors, said at a press conference. The emergency room and 250 of the inpatient beds at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield section were eliminated Jan. 1 as part of a consolidation. Highmark announced Tuesday it is acquiring West Penn Allegheny, the region's second largest health system, and immediately providing a $50 million grant to keep West Penn open and pay for capital improvements at the aging facility. The state's largest insurer will spend a total commitment of $475 million over four years to acquire the health care system as a subsidiary, including $75 million for scholarships to go to medical schools affiliated with West Penn Allegheny.