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Cooley Dickinson Hospital, above, has settled on Massachusetts General Hospital as a merger partner after three years of deliberations.
Cooley Dickinson Hospital, above, has settled on Massachusetts General Hospital as a merger partner after three years of deliberations.

Regional News/Northeast: Board of trustees votes to move forward with Cooley Dickinson merger, and other news

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: March 3, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Cooley Dickinson Hospital, a 142-bed hospital, took the first step toward a merger with Massachusetts General Hospital. After a three-year process involving seven potential partners, the Cooley Dickinson board of trustees voted to move forward with an agreement with 907-bed Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, part of Partners HealthCare System, according to a news release.

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“As one of the pre-eminent hospitals in the country, Massachusetts General has the financial resources and intellectual know-how to help Cooley Dickinson thrive as we navigate the fundamental restructuring of healthcare that is under way,” Matt Pitoniak, chair of the Cooley Dickinson board of trustees, said in the release. Massachusetts General Hospital said it will be able to provide Cooley Dickinson with access to “low-interest refinancing of $62 million in bonds, lower malpractice insurance cost and group purchasing rates for big-ticket purchases, such as information technology systems.” Cooley Dickinson narrowed the finalists to Massachusetts General and 659-bed Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Mass. The Cooley Dickinson board and some of the affiliation task force members expressed concerns that an agreement with Baystate could reduce competition in the Pioneer Valley, the region where Cooley Dickinson is located and where Baystate's parent, Baystate Health, operates three hospitals. The parties plan to file the merger agreement with regulators within the next few months and close the deal by the end of the year, said a Cooley Dickinson spokeswoman.

Saints Medical Center has reached a merger deal with Lowell General Hospital.
Saints Medical Center has reached a merger deal with Lowell General Hospital.
LOWELL, Mass.—The boards at Lowell General Hospital and Saints Medical Center approved a definitive agreement to merge the Lowell-based hospitals. As part of the agreement, Saints Medical Center, a 117-bed hospital that had announced plans to be acquired by Steward Health Care System in 2011, will preserve its Roman Catholic identity, according to a Lowell General Hospital news release. The 189-bed Lowell General Hospital and Saints Medical Center signed a memorandum of understanding to affiliate in October. The combined hospital will be governed by a board of trustees equally drawn from both facilities. The boards have not yet agreed on a name for the new entity and financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, said a spokesman for Lowell General Hospital. “This merger will create a financially strong institution that is able to invest in new clinical programs and technology, recruit top medical specialists and further advance the quality of healthcare in the community,” Stephen Guimond, president and CEO of Saints Medical Center, said in the release. “We are particularly pleased that the new board will have equal representation and that a two-campus system will be maintained.” Norm Deschene, president and CEO of Lowell General Hospital, has been tapped to lead the combined hospital. The deal requires approval from state authorities and the Vatican.

NEW YORK—Peninsula Hospital Center has transferred or discharged patients and stopped accepting new patients after its clinical laboratory failed a New York State Health Department inspection. Liz Sulik, a spokeswoman for the Queens hospital, said about 90 patients were transferred to other hospitals or sent home. The Health Department suspended the hospital's clinical laboratory permit for 30 days and ordered additional actions “because the lack of a clinical laboratory at the facility poses a danger and threat to the health of current and future patients,” according to the agency's website. The Health Department ordered the hospital to halt admissions and laboratory-dependent services. Peninsula must also cancel surgeries and other procedures under the Health Department's action. The hospital's emergency room continues to accept walk-ins, Sulik said. Its radiology, family health center, ophthalmology and dentistry departments also remain open. “As the hospital complies with the DOH's directive, it is expeditiously developing a plan to remedy the laboratory deficiencies and hopes to restore full services as soon as possible,” according to a statement posted on the hospital's website.

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