GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 14, 2011

No guarantees

Residents, council quiz CEOs on AGH's fate

A host of residents and a few City Councilors didn't get a written promise ensuring the future of Addison Gilbert Hospital from heads of Lahey Clinic and Northeast Health Systems yesterday.

But Ken Hanover, Northeast's corporate executive officer and Dr. Howard Grant, Lahey's president and CEO, said he had no plans or desire to close Gloucester's community hospital.

Hanover and Grant spoke before residents yesterday, fielding questions about the future of Addison Gilbert Hospital, the relationship and services at Addison and Beverly Hospital, and what residents could expect from the marriage of the two companies next year. They spoke to the City Council Tuesday night, and city residents in two public forums on Wednesday.

Both men said they had no plans to close the hospital, but said it would be disingenuous if either Lahey or Northeast promised to maintain services at Addison Gilbert Hospital for the unforeseeable future. Hanover said that no one could guarantee that any service will be at Addison Gilbert perpetually.

"Addison Gilbert Hospital's not going to close," said Hanover at one of the community forums, "there's no discussion and there's not intended to be discussion to close Addison Gilbert Hospital, period."

Grant said to the City Council that his company had no intentions of closing down, or reducing services at Addison Gilbert either.

Northeast Health Systems announced that it would affiliate with the Lahey Clinic in July. The two companies will create a $1.5 billion health care conglomerate. The companies will craft a parent organization, Lahey Health Systems, that will govern both the Lahey Clinic, and Northeast. That affiliation, when finalized, will include a number of hospitals from Gloucester to Burlington.

Grant and Hanover said that the affiliation's not finished yet, and won't be until the first quarter of 2012. The companies still need to pursue approval from the State Department of Public Health and the Federal Trade Commission. The State Attorney General, Martha Coakley, will also review the decision.

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