GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

January 2, 2012

Editorial: Chance to be heard on AGH deal

There were a number of forums and a lot of rhetoric throughout 2011 regarding the proposal for Northeast Health System — with Addison Gilbert Hospital in tow — to join forces with Lahey Clinic to for a new, nonprofit health-care corporation.

Lahey CEO Howard Grant and Northeast CEO Ken Hanover have been out front and open in fielding employes' and Cape Ann residents' questions and concerns, notably at a pair of September forums hosted by Cruiseport Gloucester. And both have expressed a commitment to maintaining the core services at Addison Gilbert to assure its future. Yet, many residents and even Gloucester and Rockport officials have sought a more binding, written guarantee for Addison Gilbert's future, which the CEOs have not extended beyond essentially a three-year time frame.

As we've noted, given today's complex economic and health-care landscapes, it may not be realistic or responsible for anyone to absolutely guarantee the perpetual future of any business or service provider that is ultimately dependent on revenue. But if you want to drive home the point of how essential AGH is to the people of Cape Ann, the time and place to do so is Thursday at 6 p.m., at Beverly's Memorial Building, 502 Cabot St.

That's when representatives of the state's Department of Public Health will hold a public hearing on the pending agreement. And it is they, along with the Federal Trade Commission, and the office of state Attorney General Martha Coakley, who can set conditions for finalizing any agreement.

Even in the world of big-time, corporate merger talks, individual voices make a difference. Thursday is your chance to be heard on this one. If you have a concern, don't let it pass you by.

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