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January 4, 2012

Standing up for AGH: Residents mobilize for state hearing in Beverly

The proposed partnership between Northeast Health Systems and Lahey Clinic needs the approval of three state and federal agencies before becoming reality.

Come Thursday night, one of those three — the state's Department of Public Health — will listen to both the hospitals and members of the community regarding the planned $1.5 billion affiliation. And a group of Cape Ann residents are mobilizing to make their case for securing a better guarantee for the future of Gloucester's Addison Gilbert Hospital, which, under its parent company of Northeast, would be part of the deal.

The Department of Public Health will hold the first of two public hearings on the proposed affiliation between the two hospital systems Thursday at 6 p.m. at Memorial Hall in Beverly, a former school building located at 502 Cabot St.

The hearing will allow for comment from residents in Northeast's range of coverage. People can speak at the hearing, but must sign in at the start of the hearing to be called upon, organizers said.

"This is an opportunity for the Department of Public Health to hear from us about our plans for the affiliation and for the department to hear from the community about their concerns," said Lori Howley, Northeast's marketing director.

Northeast CEO Ken Hanover, Lahey President and CEO Dr. Howard Grant and Steven Defossez, head of Northeast's medical staff, will speak at the hearing.

They, said Howley, will talk about the affiliation plans, and the hospital system's goals going forward.

A group of Cape Ann residents concerned about the future of Gloucester's Addison Gilbert Hospital, however, see the hearing as more than that.

Margaret "Peggy" O'Malley, a registered nurse and head of the group Partners for Addison Gilbert Hospital, said the hearing gives Cape Ann residents the chance to put their concerns before the state, rather than just posing questions to Northeast and Lahey.

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