Northeast Health System and the Lahey Clinic Foundation announced on Tuesday that Beverly Hospital and the six other medical facilities operated by NHS will be merging with Lahey to create a new hospital network stretching across the northeastern part of Massachusetts.
Lahey, which is headquartered in Burlington, is not absorbing NHS, instead a new healthcare organization is being formed. Lahey is a highly regard teaching hospital of Tufts University.
The new entity will be called Lahey Health System and led by Howard Grant, JD, MD, as President and CEO — Grant is the current CEO of the Lahey Clinic Foundation.
Lahey Health System will be governed by a new board of trustees composed equally of representatives from NHS and Lahey. Some additional board members, unattached to either entity will be chosen from the community.
The new parent entity will oversee both organizations.
“Lahey Clinic and Northeast Health will make a great healthcare team,” said Grant in a press release. “This is a historic moment — two superb organizations aligning to create an even stronger integrated healthcare delivery system.”
He said that by joining forces, both organizations can enhance the type and quality of care delivered to their patients. Combined, NHS and Lahey employs more than 10,000.
In addition to its hospitals in Burlington, Peabody and Lexington, with doctors’ offices in 12 communities, including Danvers, Beverly, Essex, Hamilton-Wenham, Ipswich and Lynnfield. NHS operates Beverly Hospital, , Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, BayRidge Hospital in Lynn and some medical offices.
NHS President and CEO Kenneth Hanover offered similar sentiments, saying the accessibility of cutting-edge clinical services will be improved while promoting “efficiencies, quality and synergy of services.”
“This was our goal from the start of this process and we are very excited that we have landed at this decision and opportunity today,” Hanover said.
NHS headed down this road this past January, looking to establish a new integrated system of care for a larger client population at a lower cost as one strategy of preparing to deal with healthcare reform.
“All of our discussions leading up to this decision revolved around creating a system that puts patients first,” said Irving Rogers, chair of Lahey’s board of trustees. “We believe that this is a strong step forward in how healthcare institutions can align to improve quality and efficiency while reducing costs and remaining very competitive in the marketplace.”
NHS was courted by three other organizations for its affiliation: Beth Israel Deaconess, Vanguard Health Systems and Steward Health Care. The press release noted both NHS and Lahey are still financially sound.
“NHS and Lahey have always maintained a complementary focus of providing community-based care and have a strong history of successful clinical collaboration. This is an affiliation of two well-respected and financially stable healthcare organizations,” the press release said.
The NHS Affiliation Advisory Committee evaluated each proposal for quality, service, medical staff and physician relationships, values, culture, finance and infrastructure, and ultimately chose Lahey as the best partner going forward.
“Of significant importance to this process and decision was identifying an organization whose philosophy of care aligns with our own, and whose vision for the future complements our goals,” said David St. Laurent, chairman of the NHS Board of Trustees.
Plans for the affiliation must pass a standard regulatory process, which may take several months. Community forums are being planned to explain the changes to patients.