Daily New Reports: "No opposition voiced at hospital hearing"

Daily News of Newburyport

No opposition voiced at hospital hearing

Anna Jaques representatives, others testify

By Amanda Getchell

January 3, 2018

NEWBURYPORT — A proposed health care affiliation of Anna Jaques and four area hospitals received no opposition at a public hearing Wednesday evening at City Hall.

Nearly 100 people turned out for hearing hosted by the Department of Public Health, including about 15 who offered testimony.

Anna Jaques Hospital President and CEO Mark Goldstein referred to the vision and charity of the hospital's founder, Miss Anna Jaques, to sum up the importance of the health care facility to its patients, staff and local residents: "Her request was pretty simple, give compassionate care to the residents of our community."

The affiliation would link Anna Jaques with several hospitals on the North Shore — Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lahey Health System, New England Baptist Hospital and Mount Auburn Hospital. The five hospitals would unite under a single parent organization, dubbed NewCo, with a goal of offering more options to those receiving treatment from these facilities.

Some said the main focus of the hearing was not just to "survive but thrive" by expanding treatment options for patients with the use of specialists at other hospitals that may be too far away for local residents to travel to, especially those who are elderly, disabled or severely ill.

Local elected officials — including Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport; Rep. James Kelcourse, R-Amesbury; and Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday — offered testimony on behalf of their constituents in support of the affiliation.

Holaday reflected on a personal experience involving a woman she witnessed having a stroke to stress the significant need to maintain and expand upon a hospital in the Greater Newburyport area so residents could continue to receive care locally.

Goldstein said Anna Jaques, which serves 17 communities, cannot remain independent when it comes to funding new programs and technology that come with further medical advances.

"As a new system, if we can shift care to lower-cost, high-quality institutions like Anna Jaques and keep care in an appropriate community-based setting, we will simultaneously help community hospitals to thrive while lowering total medical costs throughout the commonwealth," Goldstein said.

Some local residents expressed hope that infants born addicted to opioids would receive better care, a pressing issue in northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

Others, such as Anna Jaques board of trustees Vice Chair Grace Connolly, said Anna Jaques needs to be a part of a strategic health care alliance that shares the core values of patients and providers.

Residents who were unable to attend the public hearing can submit written testimony on the proposed hospital merger to the Department of Public Health, 250 Washington St., 6th floor, Boston, until Jan. 17 at 5 p.m.

For more on the hearing, see newburyportnews.com and Friday's print edition of The Daily News. 

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