GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 20, 2011

Northeast in merger talks with 4 firms

Northeast Health System, the parent company of Gloucester's Addison Gilbert Hospital, has been talking in recent months about a potential affiliation with four other health care organizations, Northeast President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Hanover said Thursday, with a decision on whether to proceed expected later this year.

Hanover listed Lahey Clinic, Beth Israel Deaconess, Vanguard Health Systems and Steward Health Care System as the groups with whom Northeast has talked.

"We are at the early stages of discussing various alternative relationships with various other health care organizations," Hanover said in a Thursday telephone interview with the Times. "We've had preliminary discussions with those four."

Hanover said the talks were aimed at exploring the desirability of a strategic or primary alliance.

He said Northeast trustees had made no decision about a specific would-be partner, and that it would be prudent to examine ways to maintain stability in a fast-changing time within the health care industry.

Currently, he added, Northeast continues to be a "very vibrant, financially sound organization."

At the same time, health care reforms on the state level in 2006 and on the federal level last year are bringing "significant changes in the way care is accessed and provided," Hanover said.

In addition to Addison Gilbert, Northeast Health System includes Beverly Hospital and BayRidge Hospital in Lynn. Other Northeast facilities include Beverly Hospital at Danvers; Medical and Day Surgery Center, Danvers; CAB Health & Recovery Services Inc. at 16 sites, including on Cape Ann; Health & Education Service Inc. at 38 sites, including on Cape Ann; the Herrick House in Beverly; Ledgewood Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Beverly; and Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Gloucester.

Meanwhile, expressing fears for Addison Gilbert's future, a group known as Partners for Addison Gilbert Hospital has scheduled community meetings in Rockport and Gloucester next Tuesday to "review what's really happening at the hospital and Northeast, and make plans together on how this community must and will protect our hospital and all the services needed there."

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