Exeter Hospital exploring affiliation with WDH, MGH
By Brian Early firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Oct 9, 2018 at 10:47 PM
Updated Oct 9, 2018 at 10:47 PM
DOVER — The leaders of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, Exeter Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital outlined what they see as the benefits if Exeter Hospital joined in a partnership with WDH and MGH.
These include sharing resources, cost reductions and better patient care.
It was the second of two community meetings by the three entities that are exploring the possibility of Exeter Health Resources, the parent company of Exeter Hospital, joining the MGH and WDH partnership. The three healthcare providers announced plans in May to explore creating a new regional network. Bringing in Exeter would add to the MGH and WDH partnership that began in 2017. WDH President and CEO Greg Walker said when the WDH/MGH partnership was created, it was done so in mind with more potential affiliations in the future.
The adding of Exeter Health Resources would have to be approved by federal and state regulators before it could be official. Walker said officials of the companies are still in the due diligence phase, investigating whether it makes sense for all three entities to affiliate. If they do, he anticipated the companies would file its final affiliation documents in early 2019 to the
U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. The Federal Trade Commission would have to rule first whether the affiliation would violate anti- trust laws, he said.
The community meetings are part of the regulatory process, said Jeffrey Hughes, WDH’s chief strategy officer and who moderated the meeting.
Walker said WDH has already realized $4.5 million in savings with its affiliation with MGH, the largest hospital in New England. He noted that WDH needed to purchase defibrillators, and by waiting until after the partnership was approved, the hospital was able to save $100,000 by using MGH’s purchasing power. The cost savings have allowed the WDH to expand other services, he said.
Walker said Exeter Hospital and WDH offer similar services and generally do not overlap in coverage area. “We’re very complementary,” he said. Like WDH, Exeter Hospital is also a non- profit organization. He believes the hospitals would be able to offer more services because it can share the costs. Walker said the MGH affiliation has helped them attract more doctors to WDH because of being affiliated with the academic research hospital that MGH is, and he believes that would continue by adding Exeter to the network.
Walker walked through the structure of the affiliation. WDH and Exeter would form a new non-profit, which has the working name NewCo, though he and Exeter Health Resources President and CEO Kevin Callahan were clear NewCo would not be the final name. NewCo would have a board made up of members of Exeter, WDH and MGH and would be below the MGH board in the governance structure. Under the NewCo board would be the Exeter board and WDH board, both of which would include NewCo members.
Walker said under the current structure, MGH’s board approves WDH’s budget and its strategic plan. “They have approval rights in what we do, but they delegate a lot of authority down to the local board,” he said.
The audience was made up of community members, people in the healthcare facility and those affiliated with the hospitals. Many were supportive of the potential affiliation, however, some worried about the future of care of WDH. One woman said she worked in the banking industry during the time of consolidation in the 1990s, where community banks would merge with larger ones but retain little of its identity, which displeased both customers and employees. She worried the same would occur with the hospitals. Walker said he believed the affiliation would enhance customer service and services offered to patients that would attract quality staff.
Another woman from Somersworth expressed concern about behavioral health at the WDH. She said there is a long waiting list for people seeking services, and she suggested to Walker that WDH invest the $4.5 million in savings the hospital has realized with the MGH affiliation and hire more psychiatric nurse practitioners. Walker said he would gladly hire more nurse practitioners, but there is a serious shortage in the field. “As much as we would like to hire people, they aren’t there,” he said. After the meeting, the woman said she was still very much in support of the affiliations.