GARDNER — Heywood Healthcare and UMass Memorial Health are exploring the possibility of making Heywood part of the UMass Memorial Health system.
The Board of Trustees for both Heywood Healthcare and UMass Memorial Health signed a non-binding letter of intent (LOI) that allows the two to “explore affiliation options upon the completion of a thorough and non-binding due diligence process,” according to a statement issued by Heywood Hospital on May 3. Heywood and UMass Memorial already collaborate on a number of programs.
“During the past two years, we have managed both the challenges of COVID-19 and an increasingly complex health care environment. In order to assure continued access to outstanding local health services, we must consider new strategic models that strengthen and enhance the viability of services for our community,” said Win Brown, president and CEO of Heywood Healthcare.
The two healthcare providers are going to explore the possibility of merging over the course of a year; after that time, the two will decide whether or not to officially affiliate, a process which is subject to regulatory review and approval.
If the affiliation becomes official, the following hospitals and medical service providers offered by Heywood Healthcare will become part of the UMass Memorial Health system: Heywood Hospital in Gardner, Athol Hospital, Critical Access Hospital in Athol, Heywood Medical Group, a primary care and specialist service provider, and The Quabbin Retreat, a mental health and substance abuse treatment center.
Some proposed benefits of bringing Heywood into the UMass Memorial system are:
- Increased access to capital to invest in facilities (such as the Heywood Surgical
- Pavilion, which is already in development) and state of the art medical equipment
- A more “comprehensive” electronic health record system
- Expanded access to specialists and programs such as “Hospital at Home”
- The affiliation may also allow for employees to be paid more
“This proposed affiliation will strengthen care for patients in central Massachusetts,” said Eric, Dickson, MD, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health. “I am excited that by working more closely together, Heywood Healthcare and UMass Memorial will improve access to essential health care services in this region.”
The proposed affiliation is not going to change healthcare services for Heywood’s patients. According to the May 3 release from Heywood:
“The proposed affiliation does not impact patient care services currently offered within Heywood’s system. All sites remain open and patients will continue to use Heywood campus locations and physician offices for routine appointments, emergency care and diagnostic testing, including imaging, labs, cancer care, inpatient admissions, surgical procedures and behavioral health.”
If the alliance becomes official, Heywood is going to join the following hospitals already part of the UMass Memorial Health system: UMass Memorial Medical Center, UMass Memorial Health’s Harrington Hospital, UMass Memorial Health’s HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital and UMass Memorial Health’s Marlborough Hospital.