Four critical-access hospitals in the upper third of New Hampshire
have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to collaborate in the care of a population that is among the sickest and poorest in the state.
Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, Littleton (N.H.) Regional Healthcare, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook and Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster signed the proposed affiliation deal last week. Pending a final agreement, the not-for-profit hospitals will create a new 501(c)(3) parent organization, but each hospital will still retain its assets.
Among the principal goals are to create an integrated regional health system and coordinate care
to improve quality and lower costs, according to the letter of intent. The four hospitals sit in an area of New Hampshire called the North Country, which has the worst overall health outcomes in the state, according to a county health rankings study
by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The rates of unemployment and children living in poverty are also well above New Hampshire's averages.
“There is every belief that this idea is a good one; that it will provide an affiliation that will serve all the communities in the North Country and preserve quality, value-driven and caring health services to people in the communities we serve,” leaders of the four hospitals wrote in a statement
. “We'll be stronger together.”
Officials expect the new parent will be created by next year. Four community information meetings have been scheduled in August to discuss the affiliation.
In 2013, the four hospitals had $167 million in combined net patient-services revenue.Follow Bob Herman on Twitter: @MHbherman