For the second time in two years, New Hampshire's largest health systems have called off plans to affiliate.
Lebanon-based Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health and Manchester-based Elliot Health System announced Friday that they had decided to end their latest round of discussions, which began in May 2016. The two systems engaged in talks for most of 2015, according to the New Hampshire Union-Leader.
A statement from Elliot Health System said that the systems would not continue to pursue an affiliation, but rather will look for ways that Elliot and Darmouth-Hitchcock can partner on programs that serve community needs. Elliot will still consider future affiliations but will focus on bolstering its emergency department, reaching cancer center goals and potentially expanding its hospital, the statement said.
“Despite the sustained hard work and good faith of both boards and senior management, we have together agreed to shift our focus from pursuing a jointly integrated system to seeking the best means to continue to build on our work together in alternative ways,” the statement said.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO Dr. Jim Weinstein wrote in a memo to health system employees that "both organizations have determined that we can best serve our respective missions by continuing to work collaboratively in selected areas rather than by entering into a more fully integrated relationship. "
The two are, however, already affiliated in one way. Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Elliot and Frisbie Memorial Hospital inked a deal in 2015 to create Benevera Health, a joint venture in which the providers share clinical information and financial risk for 80,000 New Hampshire residents in order to better manage population health.
Darmuoth-Hitchcock has had trouble with mergers in the past: state regulators and the Federal Trade Commission objected to its proposed merger in 2010 with Catholic Medical Center, one of the state's largest health systems next to Elliot and Darmouth-Hitchcock.