Exeter Hospital vows improved care with pending merger
By Alex LaCasse
Posted Oct 4, 2018 at 6:21 PM
Updated Oct 4, 2018 at 6:26 PM
EXETER -- The heads of Exeter Hospital, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital led a community forum to discuss the pending merger of Exeter Hospital with the Massachusetts General Hospital system Tuesday night.
Exeter Hospital’s merger is not expected to be approved by state and federal regulators before winter 2019 but Kevin Callahan, president and CEO of Exeter Hospital, said the move would better enhance clinical care for patients by being able to leverage the resources of Massachusetts General (MGH) to provide better specialty care for patients on a local level, the economies of scale realized by partnering with Wentworth-Douglass, which would “escalate the level of innovation” in treating Seacoast patients.
“In the next three months or less we’ll complete the level of diligence that needs to happen; it’s a fairly exhaustive process for which Wentworth (Douglass), Exeter and MGH examine each other, in terms of our strengths, our weaknesses, if we have them and where we could do better,” Callahan said. “Our ability to sustain values that have made this organization such a tremendous asset to the community requires this continuing evolution.”
Callahan said the New Hampshire-based hospitals would be part of a New Hampshire-based healthcare system administered by Mass. General, named “NewCo.” Callahan said under NewCo, Exeter Hospital would be in a better position to deliver on the promises to the roughly 500,000 people in the greater-Exeter community it annually interacts with between patients and the family of patients.
″(It will be a system) that combines the strengths of Exeter, the strengths of Wentworth- Douglass Hospital and obviously the strengths of Massachusetts General Hospital and its partner system,” Callahan said. “By creating this affiliation, we are seeking to take advantage of the evolving systems of care that require greater scale, that are more complex and require greater resources to deliver on the promises we all look for in our health care providers.”
Greg Walker, president and CEO of Wentworth-Douglass, said following his own hospital’s merger with MGH in 2016, they were able to offer more services to patients in the form of epilepsy specialists and saved more than $4 million dollars from the previous year’s budget by taking advantage of MGH’s bond rating to obtain lower prices on goods such as supply costs, pharmaceutical costs and borrowing costs, for example.
“We wanted to enhance the quality of care (by joining MGH) because at the end of the day that’s the most important thing we can do,” Walker said. “We wanted to create the opportunity to grow services; the more we can work with our tertiary providers to bring those services close to home and not have patients go down to Boston; it’s better for the community.”
Dr. Peter Slavin, president of MGH, said his hospital is treating a number of patients for a variety of ailments in Boston at a level that is unsustainable, whereas by partnering with Wentworth-Douglass and Exeter, in a matter of months; the same level of expert care administered at MGH would be available to partner hospitals with patients maintaining the same medical record throughout the system.
“We have more patients than we can care for in Boston at Massachusetts General and we are actively trying to keep people in their homes, in the community with the community hospital and community physicians,” Slavin said. “We have been extraordinarily impressed with the quality of people and the culture of these two hospitals. We want to be a temple of healing for everyone, the goal of this is to make one, plus one, plus one greater than three.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the anticipated merger is invited to attend an encore community forum at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m.