The Rise and Fall of the Independent Hospital (Part 2 of 2)

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HMR-thumb1University Hospitals’ acquisition of Parma Community General Hospital in northeast Ohio, as discussed in our last post, isn’t an isolated incident. In fact, it seems to be a trend.

As John Commins reports in an article for HealthLeaders Media, there has been a wave of hospital consolidations recently.

First, in Massachusetts, Winchester Hospital announced its affiliation with Lahey Health under a shared governance model. Lahey Health has a pretty impressive service area, covering northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and Winchester president and CEO Kevin Smith sees the affiliation as an “exciting step forward” that will better position Winchester to be “an even more effective partner in maintaining and improving the health of the communities we serve.”

Lahey president and CEO Howard Grant, MD, concurs, envisioning “two innovative organizations [that] are aligning to create a comprehensive network of locally respected primary care physicians and nationally recognized specialists.”

Lahey Health was recently created after Lahey Hospital & Medical Center formed an affiliation with Beverly Hospital, Addison Gilbert Hospital, and various other Northeast Health System members under the banner name, Lahey Health.

Then, there was the announced acquisition of New York Downtown Hospital by New York Presbyterian that will now be known as New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital.

The CEO, Stephen J. Corwin, MD, also sees this as an important step forward because it is “the only acute care hospital serving lower Manhattan, [and] this campus is vital to meeting the healthcare needs of many populations. We are working closely with the community, as well as with Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell physicians, to create a first-class campus that provides the highest quality, most compassionate care and service for patients and their families.”

Finally, Edward Hospital & Health Services and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, both in Illinois, announced the completion of their merger. Commins reports, “The merger creates one of the larger integrated health systems in the state comprised of three hospitals: Edward, Elmhurst Memorial, and Linden Oaks at Edward, with revenues of about $1 billion and more than 50 outpatient locations across a service area of 1.7 million residents. The system employs nearly 7,700 and has more than 1,680 physicians on staff. System naming/branding will be determined and communicated in the coming months, the new system said in a media release.”

System CEO Pam Davis sees the merger as “an historic day for residents of our communities because it brings together and strengthens important community-focused institutions with long histories of serving the western and southwestern suburbs.”

Illinois Health Partners will also work closely with the new system, bringing an additional 400 physicians and several independent physicians into the network of providers.

So, are these consolidations and acquisitions a trend or a passing fad? Or do they signal the future of healthcare: hugely interconnected systems occupying large swaths of states and communities? And if so, as we asked in our last post, is healthcare being so big a good thing for the patient?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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