GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 11, 2012

My View: AGH and addressing of comunity's needs

My View Cynthia Cafasso Donaldson
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — As a lifelong resident of Gloucester, and as someone who has spent most of my career at Addison Gilbert Hospital, I know how much all of us value our cherished community asset.

Addison Gilbert is one of the foundations of our community. It is where many of us – including me – were born, and it is the place we turn to first for our health-care needs. That’s why our community reacts so warily whenever there is talk of change at the hospital or in the health network that owns Addison Gilbert Hospital.

Tonight, at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, I will join Denis Conroy, the interim president of Northeast Health System and vice president of system integration for Lahey Health, in an open meeting to discuss our hospital and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

For those of you who cannot be with us this evening, I wanted to take an opportunity to talk about what we will be saying. As just about everyone knows, the North Shore’s two most experienced and most venerable health care systems – Northeast Health System and Lahey Clinic – recently completed an affiliation. The idea for these community forums originated out of Lahey Clinic and Northeast Health System’s commitment to be sure that we are transparent to all residents in the communities we are privileged to serve.

Some of the developments we will discuss tonight include:

The new combined entity: Lahey Health System recognizes and reinforces our community focus and commitment to quality care. The new board of trustees’ structure includes four members from Lahey and four from Northeast Health System, and it combines physicians and non-physicians. We’ve also added four new members previously unaffiliated with either organization, along with Dr. Howard Grant, the CEO of Lahey Clinic.

Tonight, we will also announce our new Cape Ann Community Panel, which includes a diverse group of trusted and respected business and community leaders who will serve in an advisory role for AGH. Community leaders on the panel include Ruth Pino, Howard Frisch, James Destino, Brian Tarr, James Perry, Joan Gorga, Patrick Beaton, Robert Crandall, Kay Bierweiler, Beverly Quint, Dr. John Wolfe and Judson Reis.

I’m happy to tell you also that Tina Ketchopulos has moved to AGH full-time and will serve as the Community Relations Coordinator, focusing on day to day community relations at the hospital. Tina is a lifelong resident of Rockport and has been at Northest Health Systems for more than 30 years.

Tonight we will discuss an overview of Addison Gilbert’s services, programs, statistics and financial picture – a picture that we believe underscores Addison Gilbert Hospital’s value to our community.

Addison Gilbert Hospital contributes positively to the Cape Ann community both health wise and economically. We have 324 employees based at AGH – a number that has risen slightly over the last couple of years. And ours is a very busy hospital. Over the last year we had more than 3,000 admissions, 15,000 emergency department visits, 194 surgeries and 569 endoscopies at Addison Gilbert.

The Gorton’s Cancer Center experienced an 11 percent increase over the past year. Our specialty clinics – driven primarily by orthopedics and general surgery clinics – have increased by 2 percent.

I am hopeful that these numbers put to rest concerns that you have to leave Cape Ann to receive any of this care or regarding Lahey Health’s commitment to Addison Gilbert Hospital.

We also recently completed a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment to analyze the healthcare needs of Gloucester and Rockport. This was a major undertaking that included a number of components, and our community reported that we have a strong health service network – including Addison Gilbert Hospital.

Programs to counter obesity, help people quit smoking, deal with substance abuse and behavioral health needs or other healthcare needs are all available on Cape Ann.

And that leaves me with the request that we will make to all of you who come tonight: Please, use your hospital and this health system.

The best way to guarantee that Addison Gilbert serves Cape Ann for another century is to use us for your outpatient services such as laboratory, radiology, physical therapy and other healthcare needs. Simply, it is not enough just to think of Addison Gilbert Hospital for your emergency and inpatient needs.

By using your community hospital and the other healthcare facilities and services in Lahey Health, you guarantee that the system remains strong, and a strong system helps to support Addison Gilbert Hospital as a healthy, viable entity on Cape Ann.

Cynthia Cafasso Donaldson is vice president and executive director of Addison-Gilbert Hospital.