NORWICH, Conn.—Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire Backus Corp., the parent company of 184-bed William W. Backus Hospital. A definitive agreement for the deal is expected in July, the organizations announced. Hartford and Backus announced a letter of intent in February and have since performed due diligence, a news release said. Under the deal, Backus Hospital would join Hartford HealthCare's five-hospital network. Hartford HealthCare includes Hartford Hospital; Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain MidState Medical Center, Meriden; Natchaug (Conn.) Hospital; and Windham Hospital, Willimantic, Conn. “After serious review, our board has concluded that the integration of Backus and Hartford HealthCare would provide the necessary benefits for the individuals and communities we serve,” David Whitehead, Backus Hospital president and CEO, said in the release. State and federal regulators must approve any deal.
Regional News/Northeast: Hartford HealthCare to acquire Backus Corp., and other news
HARRISBURG, Pa.—PinnacleHealth announced a $150 million project to build a third hospital and renovate its existing hospitals. Construction and renovation will continue through mid-2015, said Chris Markley, senior vice president of strategic services for Pinnacle. The new 200,000-square-foot hospital, expected to be complete in 2014, will have 100 beds, he said. Also, renovation will expand the cardiac intensive-care unit at Pinnacle's Harrisburg Hospital and replace an aging wing at the Community General Osteopathic Hospital. Markley said the new hospital will alleviate strained capacity at Pinnacle's existing hospitals and improve convenience for patients and doctors who live and work near the new facility.
BOSTON—Gov. Deval Patrick said the Obama administration approved a plan to provide $628 million in funding for incentive payments to the state's safety net hospitals to encourage investment in integrated-care and alternative payment models. The governor's office said in a news release that the administration approved Massachusetts' “master plan” for Delivery System Transformation Initiatives, a program the CMS authorized in December as part of the state's Medicaid waiver. The DSTI program is expected to complement enacted and recently introduced payment and delivery-system reform legislation. The funding will be provided to seven safety net hospitals in Massachusetts for three years. It can be used to support four types of projects, including converting primary-care practices into patient-centered medical homes; building electronic chronic-disease registries; and developing the infrastructure to become an accountable care organization or implementing other alternative-payment models. The participating organizations are Boston Medical Center; Cambridge (Mass.) Health Alliance; Carney Hospital in Dorchester; Holyoke (Mass.) Medical Center; Lawrence (Mass.) General Hospital; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield; and Signature Healthcare Brockton (Mass.) Hospital. “This funding is instrumental to our ability to make quality improvements for the population we serve,” Clark Fenn, vice president of quality and risk at Holyoke Medical Center, said in the news release.
CONCORD, N.H.—Cigna Corp. and the Granite Healthcare Network, a network of hospital organizations in New Hampshire, have formed an accountable care organization. The organizations that make up the Granite Healthcare Network are Concord (N.H.) Hospital; Elliot Health System in Manchester; Southern New Hampshire Health System in Nashua; Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover; and the Laconia-based two-hospital LRGHealthcare system, according to a news release. Cigna has established 26 of what it calls “collaborative accountable care initiatives.” “The five Granite Healthcare Network organizations share our vision for a patient-centered healthcare system that emphasizes prevention and primary care and rewards physicians for care quality and health outcomes,” Donald Curry, president for Cigna in New England, said in the news release. The Granite Health Network ACO will cover 23,000 Cigna enrollees. There are 900 participating healthcare professionals, including GHN nurses who will serve as clinical-care coordinators. The coordinators, according to the release, will use Cigna-supplied, patient-specific data to identify individuals at risk for hospital readmission as well as those who may have missed or skipped health screenings or having their prescriptions refilled. The use of data and analytics will allow healthcare providers to focus “more fully on engaging patients,” Cigna said in the release.
WOONSOCKET, R.I.—Steward Health Care System's proposed acquisition of Landmark Medical Center, a financially troubled hospital in Woonsocket, moved closer to completion but requires action by Rhode Island lawmakers. The state's attorney general and health department agreed to the transaction in May, each setting conditions on the closely watched deal. The health department's conditions would require Landmark to participate in CurrentCare, the state's electronic health information exchange, and prohibit the use of ownership interests as incentives for hospital staff to refer patients to Landmark or the sale of Landmark for five years after the closing. The attorney general, meanwhile, called for at least three of the seven positions on Landmark's board to be people who are not employed by Boston-based Steward or elected officials. In an e-mailed statement, a Steward spokesman called the approvals “important developments in the efforts to save these important community institutions,” but noted that the system awaits “fulfillment of the remaining conditions.” In March, Steward amended its asset purchase agreement to allow the health system to walk away from the acquisition if state lawmakers fail to change a law that limits the number of hospitals that a for-profit system can buy within a three-year period. The state Senate unanimously voted to approve a bill that would change the Hospital Conversions Act in April. However, the House of Representatives' version of related legislation remains in committee.
BOSTON—The unencrypted medical records of 2,159 surgery patients potentially were breached when a laptop computer was stolen from a Boston Children's Hospital staffer who was attending a conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the hospital reported. The records were contained in an e-mail attachment and included patients' names, medical record numbers, dates of birth, diagnoses, procedures and dates of surgery, but not financial data or Social Security numbers, according to a statement e-mailed from the hospital. “After extensive review and investigation, Boston Children's staff were unable to determine whether or not the file was accessible on the laptop,” the statement said. Dr. Daniel Nigrin, senior vice president for information services and chief information officer at Boston Children's, said the hospital is “undertaking additional steps to prevent breaches such as this in the future.”
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