A Boston-area healthcare system last week completed its acquisition of a 189-bed hospital in suburban Lynn after two months of haggling with the town's community groups over specific pledges of service.
North Shore Medical Center, based in Salem, Mass., gained control of AtlantiCare Medical Center in Lynn in return for guaranteeing its $38 million in debt and its survival as an acute-care hospital for at least five years.
In addition, North Shore accepted service and governance conditions imposed on it by the state's Public Health Council. Those conditions include giving community groups the right to review and comment on selection of trustees for the governing board of AtlantiCare.
Originally North Shore planned to close the deal, which was struck in April, by Oct. 1.
But local health and social services advocates lobbied for additional conditions, testifying at two public hearings and getting the attention of the state Department of Public Health.
In late September, the department tabled consideration of the necessary determination of need for the transfer of AtlantiCare's license to North Shore until officials ironed out community concerns.
Those talks resulted in initiatives covering teen pregnancy, domestic violence, mental health, community outreach, transportation, interpreter services, primary care and substance abuse, said North Shore spokeswoman Bonnie Kaplan.
The initiatives focused on working with groups already making inroads on the various social and health issues, Kaplan said.
The public health council further deemed that community organizations should be consulted in any expansion or filling of vacancies on the AtlantiCare board. Kaplan said that condition was acceptable because it involved "review and input" but did not extend to decisionmaking.
North Shore bested Tenet Healthcare Corp. and two other systems in the running for AtlantiCare. The hospital's representatives said at the time that they liked the combination of local presence and regional position offered by the Salem-based system (April 28, p. 15).