, Salem, MA

April 3, 2013

Lahey, Beth Israel in merger talks

By Richard Gaines
Staff writer

---- — BEVERLY — Lahey Health, the $1.5 billion medical system that includes Beverly Hospital and Lahey Clinic, is in preliminary merger talks with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

A third party to the negotiations is Atrius Health, an organization of physician groups representing an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 doctors in the region.

Howard Grant, president and chief operating officer of Lahey, released a statement to the staff today announcing the ongoing talks.

“We talk often about the dynamically changing landscape of health care in our region, and I am writing to share with you that Atrius Health, Lahey Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC have begun an active exploration of ways we can broaden and enhance our existing relationships,” Grant wrote.

He said the parties “are all pleased to be participating in these discussions because we believe that partnerships with other high-quality health care providers are fundamental to meeting the needs of our patients and controlling costs.”

Grant said Lahey and Beth Israel “share the same vision of providing outstanding care in the right place at the right time.”

“Our conversations are very preliminary,” Grant wrote. “We have made a commitment to spend a few months exploring new possibilities to benefit our patients and the communities we serve.”

Beth Israel Deaconess is roughly the same size financially as Lahey, but the two health systems combined would still be no more than half the size of Partners Health Care, which operates Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Medical Center in Boston and a number of suburban hospitals, including North Shore Medical Center in Salem.

Beth Israel Deaconess officials also confirmed the talks, releasing an internal email about the “potential new relationship we are beginning to discuss.”

Beth Israel was one of four medical systems, including Lahey, that discussed a possible merger with Beverly Hospital and its parent company, Northeast Health System, in 2011. Northeast eventually affiliated with Lahey.