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Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro explores partnership, affiliation options

Special to the Union Leader

July 28. 2013 4:44PM
Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro is exploring opportunities for affiliation. (COURTESY)

WOLFEBORO — Huggins Hospital, one of only two hospitals in Carroll County, is exploring opportunities to partner or affiliate with other hospitals or health care systems, according Huggins’ President and CEO Michael Connelly.

Changes in the healthcare industry, including those mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) passed in 2010, have fueled a trend whereby smaller hospitals like Huggins are aligning with other hospitals, according to a recent statement from the hospital.

“Such an alignment could provide access to the infrastructure and resources needed to effectively compete in the emerging healthcare market,” Connelly said in a prepared statement. “Larger hospitals and hospital systems typically have a broader service reach and economics of scale which allow them to address growing strategic, economic and regulatory pressures.

“The pace of change in the healthcare landscape is unprecedented. This is especially true with the advent of the (PPACA), which became law in March 2010,” he said, adding that the law brought about new requirements in information technology and electronic medical records, reductions in reimbursements, and changes in payment models.

“These new requirements have had an impact on the healthcare industry,” he said.

He said many hospitals and health systems are pursuing alignment with other hospitals, with about 87 percent of U.S. hospitals surveyed in 2012 considering alignment within their strategic plans.

Huggins leadership, trustees and medical staff have spent time discussing the question of what the hospital needs and wants from an affiliation. Officials have identified three major critical needs: the ability to strengthen and ensure long term financial stability of a health care delivery system in the eastern Lakes Region; the ability to strengthen and enhance provider/physician stability in the community; and the ability to support existing core services Huggins currently provides and potentially offer new services.

Mariann Murphy, the senior director of marketing and communications for Huggins Hospital, said public forums would be scheduled, likely in the fall, to collect input from the community.

“We’re in the early stages of this, but we do want to keep our community involved,” she said.

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