NEW LONDON — Representatives from Dartmouth-Hitchcock and New London Hospital filed a proposal with the state Tuesday for an affiliation that both say would better serve the area’s health care needs.
The proposal was filed with the state Attorney General’s Office, launching a 120-day period during which the state will review the plan and take comments from the public, said Rick Adams, director of external relations with Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
If approved, the affiliation would allow the two hospitals to strengthen bonds and shared services they already provide, and would allow Dartmouth-Hitchcock to place New London-area acute care cases in New London hospital beds, Adams said.
“It’s not a plan for a merger or a takeover,” Adams said. “It’s about strengthening the relationships we already have.”
Bruce King, CEO of New London Hospital, said the affiliation would benefit the 25-bed acute care hospital, specifically smaller acute-care hospitals.
“We will retain our identity, retain our boards, but the idea is to improve what we have with a partner that can help us plan for the future,” King said.
The two hospitals share the goal of providing better health care in the Upper Valley region, and the affiliation would improve upon that that, Adams said, by formalizing and strengthening the two hospitals’ shared clinical, financial, and administrative functions.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock doctors and nurses already work at New London Hospital, and the affiliation would expand its services in the areas of cardiology, ear, nose and throat, and several other specialties.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in Lebanon, which has a capacity of 355 beds, often runs at 90 percent occupancy. The affiliation would allow it to place patients from the New London area in New London Hospital, a plus for both hospitals, Adams said.
New London Hospital, which has had a health-care alliance with Dartmouth-Hitchcock for the past decade, would welcome Dartmouth-Hitchcock as a partner at a time when small critical care hospitals are facing challenges to keep their doors open, King said.