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Partners HealthCare, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and South Shore Hospital

To meet the health care needs of the South Shore community, South Shore Hospital has proposed and is moving forward with plans for a merger with Partners HealthCare. We are confident that this proposed merger will create many benefits for local residents, from better coordination of care and increased access to primary care
physicians to new programs that focus on local health needs. The effort to merge is also designed to slow the growth of costs and more efficiently use resources.

Partners HealthCare shares our mission and vision and can support us in effectively caring for our community. By being part of its larger network—with access to a wider array of resources, technology and health care expertise—South Shore Hospital will continue to thrive in a rapidly changing health care environment. This proposed
merger includes a fully integrated working relationship with Brigham and Women’s
Hospital.

1. What are the benefits of South Shore becoming part of Partners?

In becoming part of Partners HealthCare, South Shore Hospital builds upon the longstanding relationship between our Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of Partners. By working collaboratively, we expect to:

  • Expand the availability, accessibility and affordability of preventive and primary
    care, including adding up to 27 new primary care physicians to the community
  • Increase access to specialty services in a local setting
  • Use advanced technology (particularly electronic medical records) to provide
    more seamless care to patients regardless of the setting
  • Focus on population health by investing in programs that address prevention,
    disease management and overall wellness
  • Manage costs through improved operational efficiencies
  • Harness Partners HealthCare’s extensive experience and expertise in Population
    Health Management, which is the future of health care

2. What about the patient care experience will change if South Shore Hospital becomes part of Partners?

By joining Partners we aim to improve local access to preventive and primary care, to support patient care being delivered in lower cost community settings, and to work within new payment models that focus on the quality of care not quantity. South Shore Hospital will continue to be available for all your local health care needs. At the same time, we will expand the services we offer both at the hospital and throughout the region, and provide seamless, better coordinated care as part of a system of care. The system of care would also benefit from better technology to manage your health and ensure that any specialty care needs met by system providers are coordinated with your local care team.

South Shore Hospital will also keep its name and maintain its own board of directors and medical staff, focused on assuring that the needs of our local community are well served.

3. Will I still be able to see my community-based primary care physician?

The only change we expect in the primary care network is the addition of new community-based physicians to meet the needs of our community. Adding new physicians and other clinical resources (like nurse case managers) will allow us to better support prevention, wellness and disease management programs, all of whichare critical to providing better care and slowing the increase in the cost of care.

4. Will any services at South Shore Hospital close?

We expect that all current services will be maintained and that new specialty services or resources may be added over time.

5. Why is an investment in technology and electronic medical records so important?

There are several benefits to the more sophisticated technology and medical records
that Partners offers South Shore Hospital: care is more coordinated when your clinical
team can access your record regardless of where you are in the system (your primary
care doctor’s office, South Shore Hospital or any other system provider); a strong technology
system also supports our clinicians in proactively reaching out to our patients on
preventive health matters (like screenings) or disease management (like diabetes,
chronic heart disease or depression). The big-picture data captured from these systems also helps us identify the overall health care needs of our community, which will guide us in what new investments to make and programs to offer.

6. How did you decide Partners was the right affiliation for South Shore Hospital?

  • We evaluated potential affiliations on a variety of criteria, including:
    Compatibility with our charitable mission
  • Resources to invest in the health care infrastructure on the South Shore
  • Willingness to include strong physician input in designing health care systems
    that would better care for our local residents
  • Ability to slow the growth of costs through more coordinated care and a focus
    on the health of the community as a whole
  • Commitment to continued local input in hospital operations and future growth

7. Is Partners HealthCare buying South Shore Hospital?

No. As two not-for-profit, mission driven organizations, there is no financial purchase associated with this merger.

8. Why is South Shore Hospital considering joining Partners, after 90 years as an independent hospital? Is the hospital experiencing financial/operating difficulties?

The time is right for South Shore Hospital and Partners to join together because in today’s health care environment—both in Massachusetts and across the country—government and private insurers have come to expect that physicians and hospitals develop new models of health care delivery that emphasize coordination while delivering value and efficiency to patients. By combining the talent, experience and resources of the organizations, patients can expect more coordinated care—ultimately enhancing patient care quality and satisfaction while reducing the overall rise in costs.

Working together, the organizations can utilize all their experience and resources to optimize the full continuum of care and to improve the availability, accessibility and affordability of quality health care for the people of the region.

9. What would joining Partners mean for South Shore Hospital’s employees?

We are fortunate to have outstanding colleagues who share our commitment to our patient care mission. We will continue to have local control over hiring and personnel decisions.

10. What would joining Partners mean for South Shore Hospital’s medical staff?

South Shore Hospital will continue to have its own medical staff, responsible for providing, administering, and maintaining a high quality of medical care. The proposed  merger would provide South Shore Hospital’s medical staff with the advantages of an expanded system of care including: a system-wide electronic health record; additional resources and technology and Partners HealthCare’s expertise and experience in Population Health Management.

11. Will South Shore Hospital continue to fundraise? How will my donations be used?

South Shore Hospital is a charity that depends on community support. Its philanthropic arm, the South Shore Hospital Charitable Foundation, would continue to raise support for South Shore Hospital’s charitable mission. All monies raised prior to and following the proposed merger would exclusively be used to support South Shore
Hospital.

12. When would the proposed merger take place?

We are eager to move our proposal forward and ensure that our community receives
the full benefits of the proposed merger.

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) has been reviewing this merger and will release its final report in February. The report is advisory in nature and will be taken into consideration by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, as part of the merger review process that has been underway since June 2012.

13. A recent state report has suggested that our merger should not go forward; what is your response to this?

We are confident that our thorough and thoughtful planning process resulted in a proposal that will create enormous benefits for the South Shore community in terms of access to care, focus on preventive health and disease management, investments in physicians, health care information technology infrastructure and a coordinated approach to care. South Shore Hospital leadership continues to move forward in pursuing approval of our proposal and is communicating regularly with officials about these benefits, as well as addressing any concerns that might be raised.

On January 17, 2014, South Shore Hospital and Partners submitted a formal response to the Health Policy Commission (“HPC”) Preliminary Report, read our response.   In that Response, South Shore Hospital and Partners set forth the problems with the HPC’s analysis and what it overlooks, including Partners’ demonstrated ability to lower cost and improve care through Population Health Management and all the benefits that the merger will bring to the South Shore community.

14. I’ve read that the merger will increase costs. Is that true?

In planning this merger, we have looked forward to the future of health care and the rapidly evolving landscape in Massachusetts and across the nation. We believe that there will be an enormous positive benefit from our plans to redesign care delivery.

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