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Hospitals Announce Formation of Northern New Hampshire Healthcare Collaborative (NNHHC)

Jul 10, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Concord, NH) – The boards of Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, Weeks Medical Center and Androscoggin Valley Hospitalannounced today that they have voted to formalize agreements to pursue collaboration to provide greater access, quality and affordability in the delivery of health care services to the people of Coos County.

In 2008 the boards and senior management of the three hospitals began informal discussions to consider ways in which collaboration would increase access, streamline costs and ensure sustainable local healthcare would benefit the citizens of the North Country over the short and long term. The three hospitals and their boards are moving forward with a new joint venture known as Northern New Hampshire Healthcare Collaborative, LLC, to begin further collaborative efforts to share services, facilities, technology, staffing and certain back office functions.

Russ Keene, Chief Executive Officer of Androscoggin Valley Hospital said, “We will work together to ensure access to quality, local care within our communities and to control the cost of that care by working together and investing in innovative programs, new specialty services, efficient delivery of care, and shared resources.”

“These three institutions had the foresight to move forward on this alliance long before federal healthcare reform legislation was enacted and before concerns regarding the sustainability of both Medicare and Medicaid became clearer in Washington,” said Charlie White, Chief Administrative Officer of Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of care available and maintain costs which can be sustained by businesses and individual patients in an economically challenged area,” said Mark Kelley, chairman of the board of Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

Winston Young, chairman of the board at Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, said: “Our Board is very confident that the Management Agreement for UCVH we have signed with WMC and AVH will help sustain care in Colebrook.” Young is referring to a joint proposal from Androscoggin Valley Hospital and Weeks Medical Center which resulted in a Management Agreement to be implemented as part of the collaboration. “The world of health care is changing quickly and all three hospitals, our boards and senior management teams share in seeking to provide value, access and quality to our citizens. Clearly we can do this far more effectively by collaborating than by attempting to go it alone,” continued Young.

Lisa Tetreault, chairman of the board at Weeks Medical Center, said “The mission, vision and values of each of these institutions are remarkably similar. We share far more philosophically and will benefit many more patients in this economy and this healthcare environment by working together. As we work through the details of the collaboration, patients will continue to see the high level of care they have come to expect from these hospitals going forward.”

Officials from all three hospitals have indicated that they will now begin working out more details with the staffs of each hospital. “We believe our most important asset is our dedicated staff,” said Scott Howe, Chief Executive Officer of Weeks Medical Center. “They are the reason we are able to deliver a consistent level of quality care to our patients every day. Our collaboration will create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts and will result in new efficiencies and additional services becoming available to the patients we serve in the North Country. Our collective clinical staffs including dozens of physicians and mid
level providers represent some of the most talented and dedicated health care professionals practicing today. We believe we can keep quality care here at home in Coos County where it belongs – close to the patients we serve.”

According to hospital officials, the Coos County patient population has been hard hit by challenges to the local economy, a demonstrated need for services, and a high number of uninsured, underinsured Medicare and Medicaid patients. Given all these factors and the continued changes at the state and federal level affecting the healthcare industry, officials from all three hospitals agreed that without collaboration between them at least some of them would not be able to sustain operations and meet the demands of their own missions. The hospitals have worked with state officials to ensure that the collaborative will comply with antitrust and charitable trust laws.