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Nurses Vs. Steward: Walk-Out At Quincy Medical Center Meeting

Sounds like a particularly stormy night in Quincy last night. The Patriot Ledger’s Jack Encarnacao reports here that a hearing at Quincy High School on Steward Healthcare System’s plan to buy the foundering Quincy Medical Center turned into a knock-down-drag-out (well, not literally) fight over nurses’ pensions, and dozens of nurses walked out. He writes:

QUINCY — A public hearing on the proposed sale of Quincy Medical Center became a battleground in a labor fight between the prospective owner and nurses from other hospitals it has bought.
Dozens of members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association walked out of Tuesday night’s hearing at Quincy High School as a lawyer for Steward Health Care accused the union of distorting facts about the dispute over a pension plan.
“They are willing to let these important community hospitals potentially close, taking with them thousands of jobs and creating economic chaos, all because they want more than ever and don’t care who is hurt in the process,” Joseph Maher, Steward’s general counsel, said of the union.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association asked the state attorney general to delay approvals of Steward’s purchase of Quincy Medical Center and Morton Hospital in Taunton until the issue is resolved. The nurses submitted signed petitions Tuesday to Steward CEO Ralph de la Torre calling for a resolution to the dispute.

Will the nurses’ complaints slow the sale of Quincy Medical Center to Steward? Not judging by how Jack’s story ends:

While some speakers at Tuesday’s hearing expressed concern about the labor dispute, all stated support for Steward’s $34 million purchase of the financially ailing Quincy Medical Center.
“Quincy needs a hospital,” said state Rep. Ronald Mariano of Quincy. “I’m more concerned about what happens if we don’t make this deal.”

The Massachusetts Hospital Landscape: Fast, Furious Consolidation

By Fran Cronin
CommonHealth Intern

Harvard health policy professor Robert Blendon recently spoke about looming changes in the hospital landscape here.

“There is a chance that you could arrive [in Massachusetts] 10 years from now and there are [only] three organizations to negotiate with,” Blendon told Kaiser Health News. “And every physician and hospital is affiliated with one of the three. There are mergers, consolidations, groups merging with larger groups, so when negotiations come, there are going to be very large players, even larger than the systems that most people envision.”

There is, Blendon added, “this very visible sign of concentration among providers, which they argue will lead to less expensive care, but economists argue will lead to monopoly.”

Those signs of concentration are coming almost weekly: Hospitals bought, hospitals merged, hospitals declaring bankruptcy. So this seems like a good moment to step back and review all the recent action in a single roundup. If we’ve missed anything, please let us know.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association has been tracking industry activity since the 1980‘s. The list below includes MHA reporting and other sources, and it demonstrates that the rate of hospital realignment in Massachusetts is speeding up.

The Latest Action

July 2011: Lahey Clinic of Burlington announced it will merge with Northeast Health System and form the Lahey Health System

July 2011: Saints Medical Center of Lowell announced it will be bought by Steward Health Care System, LLC

July 2011: Quincy Medical Center filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced it will be acquired by Steward Health Care System, LLC

June 2011: Northern Berkshire Healthcare filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

May 2011: Morton Hospital of Taunton announced it will be bought by Steward Health Care System, LLC Continue reading

Merger Fever: Winchester, Hallmark Consider Joint Venture

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports that two community hospital networks north of Boston are the latest to begin talks about a merger or affiliation.

Winchester Hospital and Hallmark Health, which includes Lawrence Memorial and Melrose-Wakefield hospitals are in discussions about a possible joint future. Hallmark Health spokesman Rick Pozniak says hospitals would need to form larger networks if the state requires managing health care payments on a budget.

“Hospitals are trying to determine the best way of meeting those payment expectations and in some cases, collaboration, partnerships, affiliations is a road that many have considered and some are even implementing today,” he said.

Pozniak says talks began a few weeks ago and there’s no timeline for a decision.

Tufts Medical Center Chief Ellen Zane To Retire

Outgoing Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane


This just in from Tufts Medical Center:

Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane to retire in September; Search for New CEO Planned

Zane and team credited with transforming the academic medical center

Zane will serve as a Vice Chairman of institution’s Board of Trustees

BOSTON (Feb. 17) – Ellen Zane, president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children for more than seven transformative years, announced today that she will retire from her current role in the fall. Zane will continue to consult with the hospital for a year after her retirement and will serve as a Vice Chairman of its Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will begin a comprehensive search for a new CEO to lead the organization into a new era.

“While I look forward to enjoying retirement, this decision is a bittersweet one for me,” Zane said. “I am so proud of what my team and I have accomplished at Tufts Medical Center. I have loved leading the Medical Center and working with the incredible doctors, nurses, administrators, researchers and staff members here. I have never worked with a more dedicated group of people in my career. This decision is far easier because I know we have excellent staff and leadership who will continue to provide a strong direction for this indispensible institution. I look forward to the remaining months of my tenure as CEO and to continuing to provide advice and guidance to the leadership here.”

Over the course of her tenure, Zane pulled Tufts Medical Center back from fiscal crisis and returned it to financial stability. She strengthened its relationship with Tufts University, established its community physician network which now includes 1,500 doctors, and launched its Distributed Academic Medical Center™ model which partners with community hospitals to keep more care locally in the community. Under Zane’s leadership, the hallmark of Tufts Medical Center has been the high-quality care it provides to its patients, the most medically complex patient population of any full service acute-care hospital in the Commonwealth. The Medical Center does so at a lower cost than its academic medical center competitors, providing immense value to patients, employers and the health system as a whole. Zane is the first woman to serve as CEO in the 215-year history of the hospital, which was founded by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, and is one of the oldest medical institutions in the nation.

The full announcement is here, but here are a couple of particularly interesting chunks: Continue reading