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April 17, 2010

Northeast Health CEO sees community 'partnership'

Hospital chief says physician recruitment is key to growth

Northeast Health Systems CEO Ken Hanover is calling on Gloucester residents, reluctant partners of his company in the past, to help boost the fortunes and future of Addison Gilbert Hospital in a shifting health care landscape.

Addison Gilbert needs six additional primary care physicians to provide optimal service to Cape Ann's 45,000 residents, Hanover said during an interview at the Times and in a visit to Gloucester City Council Tuesday.

Those new primary care physicians, which would bring the total to around 15, are the key to generating the referrals needed to attract more specialist services and bolster facilities at the hospital, said Hanover, who was hired last fall.

"If we are going to have a strong community hospital, the community needs to support it," Hanover told City Council. "When you need diagnostics and testing, go to AGH. It is more than just lip service."

Hanover vowed to keep AGH open and, with the support of the community, maintain the eight core services required by the state in a full-service hospital.

He said the recruitment of more primary care physicians is the first step in a growth effort that will hopefully bring more specialists to the area as well, to draw from the added primary care doctors' referrals. Some in the community have questioned whether some of those services, including 24-hour emergency services, surgery and anesthesiology, are truly provided at the hospital.

The effort to recruit more doctors to Cape Ann comes at a time of rapid change in the health-care industry that will likely lead to fundamental shifts in the way medical care is paid for.

The federal health care reform bill passed by Congress last month is likely to cost Northeast Health System $60 million in reduced Medicare reimbursements alone over the next 10 years, Hanover told the Times.

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