On October 7, 2011, I wrote a post titled “Sometimes the Good Guys Prevail and the Community Wins.” In writing the post, I was celebrating the announcement that Lowell General Hospital (my client) and Saints Medical Center, essentially cross-town rivals, had signed a memorandum of understanding that would eventually lead to an affiliation of the two hospitals. Until that point in time, it had looked like Saints was going to affiliate with Steward Health Care. Owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, Steward has been gobbling up hospitals and physician groups across Massachusetts at an alarming rate and have become a force to be reckoned with. Today they are the largest fully integrated community care organization and community hospital network in New England.
I’m not a fan of Steward and had hoped that Saints and Lowell General might come up with a solution that would keep control of Saints in Lowell. A merger between Lowell General Hospital and Saints Medical Center would mean that they could work together to coordinate care and avoid duplication of services and technology, making healthcare delivery in the region more efficient while serving the needs of the community. The same would not have been true if Steward had come to town.
So I am celebrating once again! Late last week, the boards of each hospital approved a merger agreement between the two hospitals. For people living in Lowell and the Merrimack Valley Region of Massachusetts, this should come as welcome news. Their interests will be well represented by this new two campus heathcare entity. The deal will not be done until it receives final approval by the Vatican and the state Department of Public Health.
Below I have embedded the body of the press release announcing the decision of the two boards. Enjoy!
Lowell General Hospital & Saints Medical Center Joint Press Release
March 1, 2012 – Lowell, MA – Lowell General Hospital and Saints Medical Center today announced that their boards have approved a definitive agreement that will lead to the merger of the two hospitals.
As a result of the agreement, the two hospitals will combine to form one entity, which will be governed by one board of trustees. The new board will be drawn equally from the current Lowell General and Saints boards. Current Lowell General President and CEO, Norm Deschene, will serve as president and CEO of the new merged hospital.
There will continue to be two hospital campuses which will operate under one license.
“Combining the strengths of Saints and Lowell General will create one of the very best community health care systems,” said Norm Deschene, President and CEO of Lowell General. “The merger will greatly benefit our patients, by creating a strong unified health care system, able to provide greater breadth and depth of services and more complex and specialized care here in the community.”
Victor Poirier, Chairman of the Saints Board of Trustees, said, “The combination of these two high-quality hospitals will serve the healthcare needs of the Greater Lowell community for generations to come. We look forward to finalizing the merger as soon as possible.”
“The merger of these two organizations will create an even stronger hospital, one that is well positioned to compete in a very challenging health care environment by being able to deliver more coordinated care at lower cost,” said Margaret Palm, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Lowell General Hospital.
The merger will allow the hospital to utilize its resources in the most effective and efficient way, by eliminating duplication of services and redundant capital spending on new technology and equipment. The combination of Saints and Lowell General will improve the coordination and quality of care, through the adoption of a single electronic medical records system and by enhancing coordination of care within the hospital and with community physicians.
“This merger will create a financially strong institution that is able to invest in new clinical programs and technology, recruit top medical specialists and further advance the quality of health care in the community,” said Stephen J. Guimond, Saints President and CEO.
“We are particularly pleased that the new board will have equal representation and that a two-campus system will be maintained.”
As part of the agreement, Lowell General has negotiated a Stewardship Agreement with the Archdiocese of Boston that preserves the Catholic identity of the Saints campus.
The agreement now requires the approval of Church authorities at the Vatican and the state Department of Public Health.
About Lowell General Hospital
Lowell General Hospital is an independent, not-for-profit, community hospital serving the Greater Lowell area and surrounding communities. The hospital encompasses ten buildings, the latest state-of-the-art technology and a full range of medical and surgical services for patients, from newborns to seniors, including: the Regional Center for Maternal and Pediatric Care in partnership with Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, the Cancer Center, and the Heart and Vascular Center.
The main hospital campus offers 217 licensed beds, including 28 bassinets and a Level IIB Special Care Nursery. The hospital’s satellite campus, Lowell General Chelmsford, offers a variety of outpatient services, including the Surgery Center, the Imaging Center, the Patient Service Center, the Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery and Floating Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Specialty Center.
Lowell General Hospital’s family of services includes two health organizations which serve the community’s health care needs in capacities outside of the hospital, the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Lowell, which providescomprehensive home health care services and the Lowell Community Health Center, which meets the diverse medical, cultural and multi-lingual needs of the city’s population.
Lowell General Hospital is a member of the Voluntary Hospitals of America. Hospital programs are accredited by the Joint Commission of Hospitals, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the American College of Surgeons, and the College of American Pathology.
About Saints Medical Center
Saints Medical Centeris a not-for-profit, full service, acute care community hospital serving Greater Lowell and the Merrimack Valley since 1839. A 157-bed licensed medical center, Saints provides advanced health services to 315,000 residents in 25 towns. With nearly 400 physicians and 1,300 employees, Saints Medical Center is well known for outstanding medical care and patient-centered facilities including its Centers of Excellence in Cancer Care, Orthopedics, Cardiovascular Services and Women’s Health. Saints also offers community-based care at several ambulatory sites and is dedicated to promoting health and wellness in the community. Saints has clinical affiliations with several leading Boston academic medical centers and is fully accredited by The Joint Commission. Further information is available at www.saintsmedicalcenter.com.