GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 20, 2011

Addison Gilbert to maintain acute care status under merger

Northeast Health System CEO Ken Hanover said Wednesday the business plan for the larger system to be formed by the affiliation of Northeast with the Lahey Clinic includes maintaining Addison Gilbert Hospital as an acute care facility for at least three years.

An acute care hospital in Massachusetts must offer eight essential services for the maintenance of an emergency department, a requirement to be state licensed as an acute care hospital.

"Lahey has committed to keeping the eight essential services for three years," Hanover said in a telephone interview a day after he and Howard Grant, CEO of Lahey, announced signing an agreement in principle to combine the overlapping systems into a $1.5 billion integrated regional health care system whose main hospital campuses — Lahey's in Burlington and Peabody and Northeast's in Lynn, Beverly, Danvers and Gloucester — arrange like a medical charm bracelet along and aside Route 128.

Adding more "charms" is on the work plan and would not come as a surprise, the CEOs said in a joint telephone interview Tuesday.

The definitive agreement and detailed rationalization of the resources and facilities could take months and requires review by the state Department of Public Health and possibly the state attorney general's office.

Lahey is a $1 billion business with global reach whose pioneering work in creating an outpatient menu of specialists under one roof helped revolutionize medicine in the mid-20th century when the clinic was in Boston. It moved to a Burlington campus in 1980 and has had a working relationship to provide tertiary care to Northeast patients in cardiology and other specialized fields.

The affiliated system will take Lahey's esteemed name but was described as a combination of equals.

"No money is changing hands, the new parent entity will control all the resources of two organizations," Grant and Hanover said in their joint interview.

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