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Martha's Vineyard Hospital and Nantucket Cottage Hospital Explore Possible Affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare

BOSTON, MARTHA'S VINEYARD and NANTUCKET, MASS. - October 19, 2006 - The boards of trustees of Nantucket Cottage Hospital (NCH), Martha's Vineyard Hospital (MVH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are scheduled to vote this week on agreements that may pave the way for the two island hospitals to become affiliates of The Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare System. The proposed affiliations are aimed at strengthening and expanding clinical relationships among the three hospitals as well as ensuring the financial security of the island hospitals so they can serve the health care needs of the Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard communities in the years to come.

These agreements - called memoranda of understanding - set forth the preliminary terms of the proposed affiliations and initiate a series of fact-finding activities to be undertaken by all parties during the next few months. This process may lead to the signing of definitive affiliation agreements by year's end. For the proposed affiliations to become final, they must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Under these affiliations, patients of MVH and NCH would continue to receive high-quality care from the providers they know and trust at the hospitals they have long relied upon. Both island hospitals would remain separate entities with their own governing boards, identities, names, cultures and styles. The most significant benefits of the proposed affiliations would be for patients with complex medical needs who require tertiary care or specialty services unavailable on the islands. These patients would have a direct link to caregivers and services at the MGH, offering better coordination of care and services through such means as a shared electronic medical record and an expanded pool of consulting sub-specialists. In addition, the MGH would work closely with the hospitals to identify opportunities to enhance the services available on the islands.

"Ensuring the very best health care for our patients and our community is at the heart of what we do every day, and it has been the central focus of these discussions," says Lucille Giddings, RN, president and CEO of NCH. "We believe that MGH and Partners HealthCare share a vision of a vibrant community-based health system, and they are committed to working with us to set - indeed, raise - the bar on what community health care can and should be."

Timothy Walsh, CEO of MVH, says a closer relationship with the MGH would support Martha's Vineyard Hospital's mission of safeguarding the health of the island's residents and visitors. "This affiliation represents a golden opportunity to ensure that Martha's Vineyard Hospital not only survives, but thrives as a community health resource. Our patients and our staff will benefit from being part of a robust system that provides a full spectrum of outstanding health care. What better way to meet our mission than to unite with one of the nation's best hospitals."

Both island hospitals have long-standing clinical collaborations with the MGH in such specialties as cardiology, radiology, neurology, dermatology and emergency services. And both NCH and MVH are connected to the MGH through telemedicine links. Also, some MGH physicians maintain privileges at the island hospitals and see patients there.

In addition to the clinical benefits, under the terms of the proposed affiliations, the MGH and Partners would agree to contribute $5 million to each island hospital to help it address its specific capital needs. For Martha's Vineyard Hospital these funds will help the institution reach its campaign goal to build a new hospital. Also, the proposed affiliations with the MGH and Partners could facilitate a change in Medicare designation for one or both of the island hospitals. This change could ultimately benefit hospitals throughout Massachusetts, including the Partners hospitals, as well as certain other island health care providers.

David F. Torchiana, MD, chairman and CEO of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, says that patients, not finances, have been central to the discussions with physicians at MVH and NCH. "The doctors who practice in these communities share a very special bond with their patients, and we must make sure that this vital doctor-patient relationship is protected and preserved," he says. "The proposed affiliations are not meant to be disruptive of pre-existing clinical relationships or referral patterns. Rather we want to work closely with the hospitals to identify gaps in care and determine how the MGH can help fill in those gaps as well as reinforce or add services that will be helpful to the island communities."

Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of the Massachusetts General Hospital, says that including these two very distinctive and trusted community hospitals in the MGH and Partners family would strengthen and augment the system. "Martha's Vineyard Hospital and Nantucket Cottage Hospital are much-cherished health care resources for their individual communities," Slavin says. "Partners has remained strong as a system because it recognizes that hospitals need to be different and distinct and have the kind of autonomy and flexibility necessary to preserve the special relationship with their communities. We look forward to the opportunity to work closely with the island hospitals to build upon our ongoing relationships to enhance care. It clearly is in all of our best interests to make sure that the highest quality health care - from preventive services to tertiary care - continues to be easily accessible and available to patients and families who live on or visit these truly special island communities."

About Martha's Vineyard Hospital
Martha's Vineyard Hospital is a 25-bed not-for-profit critical access hospital founded in 1921. The mission of the hospital is to safeguard the health of Martha's Vineyard residents by providing or arranging for the provision of high-quality, accessible medical care. The hospital admits nearly 1,100 patients a year and records approximately 35,000 outpatient visits and 15,000 visits to its Emergency Department. The hospital also runs Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

About Nantucket Cottage Hospital
Nantucket Cottage Hospital is a not-for-profit critical access hospital that serves an island community 30 miles from the mainland. Founded in 1911, the 19-bed hospital maintains a deep tradition of providing high-quality care to a population of 10,000 full-time residents that increases to more than 50,000 in the summer months. The hospital admits more than 600 patients a year, and records nearly 50,000 outpatient visits and more than 11,000 emergency visits.

About Massachusetts General Hospital
Founded in 1811, the MGH is the third oldest general hospital in the United States and the oldest and largest in New England. The 900-bed medical center offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery. Each year the MGH admits more than 46,000 inpatients and handles nearly 1.5 million outpatient visits at its main campus and health centers. Its Emergency Department records nearly 80,000 visits annually. The surgical staff performs more than 35,000 operations and the MGH Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers more than 3,500 babies each year. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the country, with an annual research budget of approximately $500 million. It is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, where nearly all MGH staff physicians serve on the faculty. The MGH is consistently ranked among the nation's top few hospitals by US News and World Report.

About Partners HealthCare System
Partners HealthCare was founded in 1994 by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Partners is an integrated health care system that offers patients a continuum of coordinated high-quality care. The system includes the two founding academic medical centers, community hospitals, specialty facilities, community health centers, primary care and specialty physicians and other health-related entities. Partners HealthCare is a nonprofit organization.

Media Contacts: Peggy Slasman, MGH Public Affairs
Petra Langer, Partners HealthCare
Chuck Gifford, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, (508) 825-8246
Rachel Vanderhoop, Martha's Vineyard Hospital, (508) 693-4645

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