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April 4, 2013

Lahey in early merger talks with Beth Israel

Discussions 'very preliminary'

Lahey Health, the $1.5 billion hospital and medical system that includes Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals, is in preliminary merger talks with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, one of Boston’s pre-eminent hospital systems, according to sources close to the talks and internal documents made public Wednesday to the Times.

A third party to the negotiations is Atrius Health, an organization of physician groups representing an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 doctors and approximately 1 million patients widespread across the region.

Beth Israel Deaconess is roughly the same size financially as Lahey, but together as a $3 million city-suburban system, the two combined would still be no more than half the size of Partners Health Care — whose epicenters, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Medical Center, emanate across Greater Boston, and which features North Shore Medical Center, an outpatient hospital in Danvers.

Howard Grant, president and chief operating officer of Lahey released a statement to the staff Wednesday, identifying the principals in the negotiations that, while preliminary, were characterized to the Times by a source close to the talks as having a “50-50” chance of succeeding — a figure seen as strong, the source said, considering the complexities of the groups in conversation.

“We talk often about the dynamically changing landscape of health care in our region, and I am writing to share with you that Atrius Health, Lahey Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC have begun an active exploration of ways we can broaden and enhance our existing relationships,” Grant wrote, addressing his message to “Lahey Health Colleagues.”

“Today, (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) is the primary tertiary hospital for Atrius Health patients, and Atrius Health also partners with Lahey Health in the northern suburbs,” he continued. “We are all pleased to be participating in these discussions because we believe that partnerships with other high-quality health care providers are fundamental to meeting the needs of our patients and controlling costs in today’s complex health care environment.”

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