In talks

Memorial and Care New England in exclusive partnership talks


Just in time to make changes regarding the recent developments in federal healthcare regulations, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island and Care New England announced in late June they have entered into exclusive discussions regarding a future partnership.

“It came about over the course of last year,” said Arthur DeBlois, acting president and CEO of Memorial Hospital.

DeBlois said the Board of Trustees surveyed the healthcare landscape to determine who would be the best partner to ally with them and narrowed the candidates down to Lifespan and Care New England. Ultimately, DeBlois said Care New England was “most closely aligned” with Memorial Hospital’s goals. Now, the partners are putting together a timeline of their next steps and hope to finalize their agreement in three to six months.

Dennis D. Keefe, president and CEO of Care New England, is a transplant from Massachusetts and has been with Care New England for just under a year. His experiences in the healthcare reform field in Massachusetts, he said, have given him the insight he feels is necessary to make major changes in Rhode Island.

“I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of healthcare reform,” he said in an interview this week. “A lot of what’s in Massachusetts is coming to Rhode Island; Massachusetts has been the basis for federal healthcare reform.”

And federal healthcare reform will dictate a lot of what will be coming down in the pike in Rhode Island.

“What are the things we need to think about going forward?” asked Keefe. “How will we be prepared for the future?”

The answer, said Keefe, lies in moving away from fee-for-service treatments and towards the global payment system.

“Insurers will pay the hospital and physicians a set fee per member to provide all healthcare on a year-to-year basis,” he said.

Though DeBlois said patients would still enjoy the quality of care they’ve received before, they will reap the benefits of being connected to a system of hospitals that range in expertise and treatment options. Care New England is the parent organization of Butler Hospital, Kent Hospital and Women & Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island.

“What is happening in the healthcare market is systems are going to provide care for people from birth to death,” DeBlois said. “The healthcare system is paid a fee to keep [patients] well...In the future, that’s how people are going to be cared for.”

He said the partnership would help grow the patients’ continuum of care, a timely step in light of the Supreme Court’s approval of the Affordable Care Act.

Keefe said the new system is riskier financially for hospitals, which means budgeting, organization and planning are more crucial now than ever. However, by expanding their member base and geographical reach, he hopes to move forward without incident.

“There’s a lot of synergy with Memorial Hospital,” said Keefe of the pending partnership. “We share a passion for academics and research.”

Memorial Hospital, a 294-bed facility founded in 1894 in Pawtucket, is a teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and operates the medical school’s Center for Primary Care and Prevention, which includes strong disciplines in family and internal medicine. The hospital also operates the Center for Rehabilitation, an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

Keefe said the primary care physicians at Memorial are another crucial component of how the hospital’s partnership with Care New England will naturally lend itself toward moving forward with healthcare reform.

“We look forward to studying partnership potentials and hopefully seeing our vision for the future of healthcare come to fruition together with Memorial,” said Keefe in a statement issued in late June.

Though no specific timeline has been solidified, the organizations hope to move forward with and seek regulatory approval after determining the basis of their partnership.


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