To the editor:
In the 1980s and into the early 1990s, I served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Addison Gilbert Hospital for six years, and as chairman of its parent, Addison Gilbert Foundation, for three years thereafter.
During that time, changes in the health-care industry and in reimbursement for providers were dramatic and threatened the very existence of hospitals, particularly small independent ones like Addison Gilbert.
On my watch, our boards commenced an in-depth evaluation of our circumstances with the assistance of an outside consultant to determine whether we could remain independent or needed to affiliate with a larger organization. We ultimately concluded that we would need to become part of a larger provider system in order to survive and hopefully prosper.
Addison Gilbert ultimately selected as our partner Northeast Health Systems, which included Beverly Hospital. In doing so, the Addison Gilbert Boards believed and clearly understood that, despite inevitable changes in the mix of services at Addison Gilbert, we would continue to provide an emergency room and all the services required under law; and further, that the Northeast Health System would work to identify services for the system that would be located at Addison Gilbert.
With the retirement of Northeast Health Systems’ CEO, Bob Fanning, and his replacement by Steve Laverty, however, both of those goals seemed to have been forgotten, and the relationship between the Addison Gilbert community and Northeast Health Systems understandably began to deteriorate. With new leadership at Northeast Health Systems and the merger with Leahy, however, we have a new opportunity to make those goals a reality, to restore and reinvigorate our relationship, and in the process, make Addison Gilbert a strong contributing partner in the Leahy System.
While people have understandably been focused on maintaining the basis services at Addison Gilbert, it is equally important for system-wide services to be located at Addison Gilbert.
Is that presently even being discussed? With an excellent operating room suite at Addison Gilbert and nursing staff, cancer center and rehabilitation facilities including Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation on campus, I would hope so. Examples of such services might include the creation of a Geriatric Center of Excellence. This is the kind of thinking that our boards envisioned would take place and would make not only Addison Gilbert, but the health care system of which it was a part, stronger and more viable.
Another issue that the Addison Gilbert community has been concerned about is the artwork that was donated to Addison Gilbert over the years.
The disclosure that over time many pieces were either stolen or removed to other locations following that merger was very upsetting. An excellent decision at this point would be to announce that each of the items have been identified, recovered — and are being returned home to Addison Gilbert.
BARRY Y. WEINER
Apple Street, Essex