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Whitefield, NH -- As of July 1, 2019, the final process of affiliation for the partners of North Country Healthcare has ended, and the organization is now permanent. The 90-day window that was part of the ongoing affiliation process in the formation of North Country Healthcare (NCH) closed on July 1st. North Country Healthcare is the parent organization of three critical access hospitals and one home health and hospice agency in Northern New Hampshire. The mission of NCH is to assure consistent, high quality, accessible, and integrated healthcare across the communities served.

The permanent members of the organization include Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook, Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster, and North Country Home Health and Hospice Agency in Littleton. NCH, in total, has more than 900 staff members, making it the largest employer in the North Country. The partnership has met or exceeded its goals, according to its leadership.

“Individually and collectively, we are focused on our patients and communities,” said Jim Hamblin, chair, NCH Board of Trustees. “We are stronger together, and the initial results of our affiliation are very encouraging, allowing us to provide outstanding healthcare to the whole region.”

Originally, four hospitals negotiated a partnership, vetted it publically and voted to affiliate to create a common parent organization back in 2015. With an aging population spread over the North Country, the affiliation was designed to save money, share resources and provide outstanding healthcare. Under the now permanent affiliation, each hospital will keep its own board of directors and its own administrative structure. All of the now-permanent members' boards voted unanimously in the past 30 days to codify the affiliation.

“There can be little question that each of the affiliates under the North Country umbrella have benefitted from the partnership, in each location we have seen substantial improvements clinically, operationally, and financially” said Thomas Mee, Chief Executive Officer of North Country Healthcare. “Consolidation and collaboration represents the future of rural healthcare, and I believe we’ve created the model for sustainability going forward.”

To date, most of the integration has been largely administrative and human resource based – but the healthcare providers have found significant savings, which have strengthened the system, and allowed them to make new investments. Savings have also come in joint purchasing, meeting current and long-term capital needs, attracting and retaining physicians and staff, increased clinical performance, and a stronger position in negotiating rates with insurers. In fact, the hospitals have also saved a considerable amount with new electronic medical records systems and leveraging purchasing power. In fact, NCH leadership envisions that, once the electronic health record is implemented in the next 18 months, patient’s medical records originating from NCH facilities or partners will reside on a single medical record platform, representing the ultimate goal in clinical integration.

NCH In the Media

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NH Business Review

Four North Country hospitals take step toward affiliation - Goal is formation of a common, nonprofit parent organization

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