To the editor:
It’s been six months since Partners for Addison Gilbert Hospital succeeded in persuading the Massachusetts Public Health Council to impose binding conditions on the merger of Northeast and Lahey that require the new corporate entity, Lahey Health Systems, to maintain services at Addison Gilbert Hospital at current levels for a minimum of three years and to conduct a comprehensive community health needs assessment, in cooperation with Department of Public Health (DPH) with input from the Cape Ann community.
The Public Health Council also directed Dr. Grant, the CEO of Lahey, to return to the Public Health Council in May 2014 to define Lahey’s plans for AGH after May 2015 in light of the findings of the community health assessment.
At the end of that meeting in March, I shook hands with Dr. Grant and expressed my commitment to work collaboratively for the people of Cape Ann. Like so many others, I was hopeful that a new era was about to begin and that AGH would benefit under Lahey. Events since then have dampened those hopes.
As soon as the merger became official in May, Lahey sent a health survey to a very small sample of Cape Ann residents which included not a single mention of AGH in 130 questions. It was also sent to residents of Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton and Wenham. There’s no indication that a survey specific to Cape Ann is planned.
That’s understandable from a corporate perspective. The data from previous surveys of Gloucester residents made a compelling case for the need for all acute services at AGH.
Since May, it has been impossible for Partners for AGH to get a meeting with Cindy Donaldson, the administrator of AGH, to discuss how to cooperate to maximize the use of AGH services and participate in the community health assessment process. Neither Dr. Grant nor Mr. Hanover has responded to similar requests in writing.