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July 20, 2011

Editorial: Lahey-Northeast deal looms as winner for Cape Ann residents

There are no doubt a lot of i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed in the weeks and months ahead before Addison Gilbert Hospital, Beverly Hospital and, for that matter, The Lahey Clinic all join forces under the non-profit tent of the newly created Lahey Health System.

But judging by the surface information emanating from the joint announcement by the two already-related hospital and health-care companies, the deal between Lahey Clinic and Northeast Health System looms as a very good deal for Gloucester and Cape Ann residents who depend greatly on a commitment to maintaining AGH's core and emergency services for years to come.

The agreement between Northeast and Lahey, as reported jointly by Northeast CEO Ken Hanover and Lahey President and CEO Howard Grant, who will head the new, combined nonprofit giant, caps an antsy few months for local residents, Northeast employees, and Addison Gilbert activists who saw four suitors competing to win the chance to add Northeast and its assets to their portfolios.

But from the start — with all due respect to Beth Israel Deaconess, Vanguard Health Systems, and Steward Health Care, which operates the Caritas hospitals — Lahey seemed the most logical choice. And the Northeast trustees — whose own hospital system already shares some service partnerships and geographic territory with Lahey — agreed,

Hanover, who has unfairly faced lingering cynicism and distrust in some circles — no doubt left over from the reign of his predecessor, Stephen Laverty — quickly noted Tuesday that the combined corporations will bring "sufficient cost synergies and revenue opportunities."

Above all, that means "we can improve our business performance, improve our margins," as he put it. And that should indeed provide the kind of investment capital Northeast and its affiliates need. But it should also provide the fiscal stability Cape Ann's communities need in their community hospital.

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