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Baystate, UMass Memorial Reach Agreement for Wing Transfer

December 18, 2013

Contact: Ben Craft (Baystate Health)
(413) 794-1689
(413) 244-8699

SPRINGFIELD/WORCESTER/PALMER, December 18—The boards of trustees of UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC), Baystate Health and Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers have authorized the organizations to sign a letter of intent to propose the transfer of ownership of Palmer-based Wing Memorial to Baystate Health.

The potential transaction now enters a period of review and due diligence within the organizations and in partnership with the relevant regulatory and oversight bodies. This work is expected to occur over the next several months. In the meantime it will be operations as usual at the two organizations and at Wing Memorial.

This letter of intent, finalized today, builds on a long-existing relationship between the two not-for-profit health systems and is also a result of the closer collaboration that UMMHC and Baystate Health announced in September, when the two systems agreed to explore a number of possible opportunities with the intent of improving quality, access and affordability of care. Thus far those discussions have advanced in the areas of sharing of best practices in quality and population health management and jointly applying for grant funding for public-health research. The two organizations continue discussing
other opportunities including shared training methodologies and better coordination of specialty services.

“Wing Memorial Hospital has a strong, historical place in the community it serves. Our dedicated staff and employees live and work in this community and the high quality care they provide has earned the trust and support of our neighbors and patients,” said Charles Cavagnaro, MD, president and CEO of Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers. “For us to potentially be part of a vibrant, local and regional health system closer to home that allows for improved access to and recruitment of specialists, access to capital investment, an accountable care organization and further supports our patients and their families is a win-win. This continuum of care for our patients, which starts at our front door, is most importantly at the center of these discussions.”

“While we recognize that we are only at the beginning of a long and complex process, we are very excited at the prospect of welcoming Wing Memorial, its patients and employees to the Baystate Health family,” said Mark R. Tolosky, JD, FACHE, president and CEO of Baystate Health. “We at Baystate Health have a great deal in common with Wing Memorial: excellence in clinical care, common missions to improve health, well-established histories of caring for patients and our communities, and a strong shared geography. Palmer and its neighboring communities are western Massachusetts communities, and Baystate has a well-established relationship with Wing Memorial Hospital. Wing physicians and providers currently send roughly half of their referrals to Baystate, and we work well in coordinating care for patients in this region. As part of Baystate Health, Wing would strengthen our local health network and enable patients to get more of their care closer to home.”

Wing Memorial’s tremendous value to the community it serves, its geographic position relative to Baystate Health and the similarities in its and Baystate’s vision regarding caring for patients became a focus early on in the discussions between UMMHC and Baystate Health.
“Wing has been a valued member of the UMass Memorial Health Care system since 1999,” said Eric Dickson, MD, president and CEO of UMMHC. “This is a difficult decision, but it makes the most sense for the patients -- who are at the heart of our decision – to become part of a regional academic health care system that will keep patients home, healthy and free from needing to travel outside the area for advanced care. A potential transfer of ownership allows both of our health care systems to provide high quality, safe and affordable care, close to home. We are certain through this process, and our continued collaboration with Baystate beyond the potential transfer of Wing, that we can improve services to patients, share best practices, minimize duplication and reduce the overall cost of care in the community.”

“One of the main objectives of national healthcare reform is improving coordination of care, and focusing as much on keeping patients well as treating them when they’re sick,” said Mark A. Keroack, MD, MPH, who will take the reins as president and CEO of Baystate Health in July 2014, and who now serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer. “In our discussions with UMMHC, one reality stood out very quickly: For western Massachusetts communities such as Palmer and its neighbors, an alignment closer to home just makes sense in the era of healthcare reform. Better alignment with local public-health efforts; closer coordination with surrounding health information exchanges; stronger relationships between primary care providers, specialists and post-acute providers—all benefit patients and providers alike.”

Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers has a rich 100-year history of caring for the health of the citizens of the Quaboag Hills and the Pioneer Valley. The 74-bed hospital provides the region’s residents with a broad range of emergency, medical, surgical, and psychiatric services. The five medical centers in Belchertown, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, and Wilbraham offer extensive outpatient services to meet the needs of surrounding communities. Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers also includes the Griswold Behavioral Health Center and the Wing Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice.
This potential transfer of ownership would signify a change in health-system parent, from UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, to Baystate Health in Springfield. Wing Memorial Hospital will continue to have its own license, governance and medical staff.

“Even though we are only at the beginning of this discussion and there are many things to be determined, it’s important to see this as an evolutionary process,” said Dr. Cavagnaro. “The potential change in ownership is driven primarily by our goal of enhancing quality and providing even greater access to affordable care closer to home. Certainly, how we collectively provide health care to the community may change over time due to health care reform, population health and other demographic changes, changes in the overall economy and reimbursements, and other factors.”
Neither UMass Memorial Health Care or Baystate Health expect to change their academic affiliations as a result of the potential transfer of ownership, nor will this letter of intent limit the ability of either party to pursue other strategic opportunities.

“In a time when health care reform has brought an unprecedented imperative to not only control costs of care, but also to provide better coordination of care and preventive measures to keep patients home and healthy, we believe that Wing’s patients can be best served through an affiliation with a parent and regional academic health care system that is closer to home,” said David Bennett, UMass Memorial Health Care’s Board Chairman.
“One of our charges as a Board of Trustees is to ensure that the strategy of Baystate Health is aligned closely with its mission,” said Victor Woolridge, chair of the Baystate Health Board of Trustees. “Looking at the ways this potential re-alignment of Wing Memorial Hospital could strengthen many of our efforts to improve health here in western Massachusetts, we felt entering into this letter of intent made sense in terms of our mission, and in the interest of sustaining our local health network.”

This sentiment of re-alignment through a potential transfer of ownership to Baystate Health was echoed by James Phaneuf, chair of the Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers Board of Trustees, who said, “This is not a decision that our board takes lightly. We strongly believe that Baystate Health would make a good parent organization and the relationship would be beneficial to the staff, physicians, patients and communities of all three organizations. Our mission, values, vision, and geography are well aligned to best serve our patients in the communities where they live.”

About UMass Memorial Health Care: UMass Memorial Health Care, with 1,200 beds and bassinets and 13,200 employees, is Central Massachusetts' largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, covering the complete health care continuum with UMass Memorial Medical Center, its academic medical center, member and affiliated community hospitals, freestanding primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, a rehabilitation group and mental health services. UMass Memorial is the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. To learn more about UMass Memorial, please visit, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers: Based in Palmer, the 74-bed hospital provides a broad range of emergency, medical, surgical, and psychiatric services. The five medical centers in Belchertown, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, and Wilbraham offer extensive outpatient services to meet the needs of surrounding communities. Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers also includes the Griswold Behavioral Health Center and the Wing VNA and Hospice.

About Baystate Health: Based in western Massachusetts, Baystate Health is a not-for-profit health care organization serving over 750,000 people throughout western New England. Services include an academic medical center, community hospitals, medical practices, home care and hospice and more. Baystate Health has a total of 824 beds across four facilities: Baystate Medical Center, the western campus of Tufts University School of Medicine, in Springfield; Baystate Children’s Hospital, also in Springfield; Baystate Franklin Medical Center, in Greenfield; and Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, in Ware. Visit