DANVERS — Hospice of the North Shore said yesterday that it has acquired the smaller Partners Hospice, a provider of end-of-life care in the Greater Boston area.

The deal expands the reach of the state's largest hospice and palliative care provider to the western and northwestern suburbs of Boston.

Partners Hospice is part of Partners HealthCare at Home, with which Hospice signed an agreement. Financial terms of the deal were not made available yesterday.

In an interview, Hospice of the North Shore President Diane Stringer declined to give financial details but called the deal "a modest transaction from a financial point of view." What is important, she said, is the ability to expand hospice care and "leverage economies of scale" in providing services.

Hospice of the North Shore presently serves 65 communities from north of Boston to the New Hampshire border.

Once the transaction is finalized at the end of January, Hospice of the North Shore will change its name to Hospice of the North Shore and Greater Boston, Stringer said.

Both organizations said Hospice's "established patient base strengthens its position in light of likely changes to come with health care reform."

On any given day, Hospice of the North Shore has 350 people in its care in homes, assisted-living facilities and skilled nursing homes in Essex County.

The nonprofit, which was founded in 1978, has approximately 270 staffers.

It also operates the 20-bed Kaplan Family Hospice House on Liberty Street in Danvers, the first inpatient hospice facility to be licensed in the state.

Partners Hospice serves 100 people in Boston and surrounding western and northwestern suburbs such as Burlington, Lexington and Newton, Stringer said. It does not have an inpatient facility, but Stringer said the long-term goal is to build one to serve Boston and its suburbs.

As part of the deal, approximately 40 staffers with Partners Hospice will transition to Hospice of the North Shore; patients will be given the choice of remaining with their present caregivers.

Partners Hospice's office in Waltham will move to Wellesley, Stringer said.

Since this is considered an asset purchase, Partners will notify state regulators, but their approval is not necessary, Stringer said.

The deal will also allow Hospice "to have a strong preferred provider relationship with Partners HealthCare," Stringer said.

Partners HealthCare, which was founded by Brigham and Women's and Massachusetts General hospitals, is the parent company of the North Shore Medical Center in Salem.

Stringer said the deal to buy Partners Hospice in no way represents an exclusive relationship, as the Hospice of the North Shore provides care for those in the Northeast Healthcare System, which operates Beverly Hospital, and Lahey Clinic, which has a hospital in Peabody.

"We are maintaining our independence as a nonprofit," Stringer said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673 or by e-mail at eforman@salem news.com.

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