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Dartmouth Health to add Southwestern Vermont Health Care as affiliate

  • The affiliation would give the smaller network access to a shared electronic medical record platform and joint purchasing, among other benefits, it says. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/9/2022 1:30:56 PM
Modified: 12/9/2022 11:42:21 PM

LEBANON — Southwestern Vermont Health Care based in Bennington, Vt., plans to become a member of Dartmouth Health, DH administrators announced in a Friday message to employees.

The new agreement builds on the services the two organizations have shared since 2011 through the Dartmouth Hitchcock Putnam Physicians group, which is based at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, as well as clinical collaborations in cancer treatment, telemedicine, and quality and safety.

“The proposed Agreement will strengthen and expand services in oncology, cardiovascular medicine, orthopedics and primary care,” DH CEO Joanne Conroy and DH Chief Strategy Officer Steve Leblanc wrote in the message to employees. “With SVHC as a regional resource, it will further expand our ability to serve patients in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York.”

The two health organizations have signed an agreement that, if approved, would add the 99-bed SVMC as well as 25 primary care and specialty care practices, two nursing homes and a foundation at nine total locations in Bennington and nearby New York and Massachusetts, to DH.

“We believe that a more formal relationship will strengthen and expand the services provided to the 75,000 patients served by SVHC,” Audra Burns, a DH spokeswoman, said in a Friday email.

A message seeking comment from SVHC was not returned by deadline, but SVHC CEO Tom Dee told Vermont News & Media on Thursday that the agreement, which he expected to be finalized by March, has been a long time coming and makes sense given that they have been working together already and that they share a “common culture.”

The Lebanon-based DH currently includes five other hospitals, including the Upper Valley’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon; Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon; New London Hospital; and Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor; a visiting nurse association and several clinics. An affiliation with the Claremont-based Valley Regional Hospital is pending as well.

“This is another step to ensure we have a solid and thoughtful plan in place that will both position the organization for current financial sustainability and look to the future growth of Dartmouth Health,” Conroy and Leblanc wrote. “We will keep you advised of our progress as we work to close this important transaction, and we look forward to formally welcoming SVHC to the Dartmouth Health system.”

The announcement comes after a plan for DH to combine forces with the Manchester-based Catholic Medical Center fell apart earlier this year and as the DH system has reported recent operational losses, which it has attributed largely to staffing shortages and difficulty discharging patients in a timely manner.

SVHC and DH aim to finalize the “integration” next year, according to the employee email. They are working through a “robust process of organizational due diligence and regulatory review,” Burns said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.


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