By Steven Fletcher
The state's Public Health Council today signed off on the planned "affiliation" or merger between Lahey Clinic and Northeast Health System, provided the new nonprofit corporation — Lahey Health Systems — keeps Northeast's Addison Gilbert Hospital services at current levels for a minimum of three years, and conducts a comprehensive community health needs assessment for going forward.
The affiliation — which had already received approvals from the state Attorney General's Office and the Federal Trade Commission, Northeast CEO Ken Hanover told the Times — gives the two health-care corporations the green light to go forward, and will create a $1.5 billion, integrated regional health system along an axis from Gloucester to Burlington. The new corporation is to be governed by a new Lahey Health Systems board with equal representation from Northeast and Lahey.
While the merger has received support from most of that axis, Cape Ann residents and officials have pushed for a "guarantee" that Addison Gilbert will continue to operate as a community hospital with essential services, including an emergency rom.
Northeast and Lahey, according to the Department of Public Health's recommendation approved by the health council in Boston today, revised their initial three-year guarantee for the hospital, and made it a binding condition of the merger.
"Staff finds that the revised commitment binding the Lahey Health System to maintain Addison Gilbert for three years and to undertake a comprehensive community health needs assessment represents a reasonable response to the comments of interested parties related to the future of Addison Gilbert," the Department of Public Health statement reads, "given the rapidly changing marketplace, the current marginal financial viability of Addison Gilbert and the precedent of commitments made in recent transfers of ownership in the Commonwealth."
We will update this story here at gloucestertimes.com as more information becomes available.
To have text updates regarding this story and other local breaking news and sports coverage, just sign up for the Times' free text alert service on the gloucestertimes.com homepage. For more up-to-date local coverage, follow the Times' news team on Twitter @gdtnews and gdtsports.
For much more on this story, look to tomorrow's print and online editions of the Gloucester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.