GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Business

May 4, 2012

Hospitals finalize merger

It's official.

Northeast Health Systems and the Lahey Clinic have closed the deal on their merger and will start building their new organization, Lahey Health Systems, over the next few months.

Cape Ann residents and officials said Thursday they are optimistic, some cautiously so, about what the affiliation means for the future of Addison Gilbert Hospital.

Some said the merger could mean improved services at the Gloucester hospital. Others said they want the health care company to start work on a mandated community needs assessment as soon as possible.

But the nonprofit is only merged on paper. And it will a while before patients see any change in the way the system operates, said Lori Howley, spokeswoman for the Northeast Health Systems side of Lahey Health Systems. Before Lahey Health Systems undertakes any major initiatives, she said, it needs to get its administrative house in order.

LHS will, in the first few months, integrate a centralized administrative model that supports local management, create a physician leadership council, complete a branding effort, and identify opportunities to further grow the system, Howley said.

The official affiliation or merger, firmed up Wednesday, closed a few months short of a year after both nonprofits announced it last July. The merge creates $1.5 billion regional health system along an axis from Gloucester to Burlington, governed by a new nonprofit corporation with equal representation from both nonprofits.

We will work to ensure a healthier future for the communities we serve by providing patients access to a full continuum of high-quality, cost-efficient services close to home," said Howard Grant president and chief executive officer of the new Lahey Health System.

Peggy O'Malley, head of Partners for Addison Gilbert Hospital, said LHS should make starting a community health needs assessment one of those initial priorities. The state's Public Health Council made that assessment a condition of the merger when it signed off on it in March.

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