Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Dartmouth-Hitchcock-Health Sign Collaboration Agreement

For Immediate Release
27 Oct. 2011
Media Contact: Kevin Robinson
802-447-5003

BENNINGTON — An agreement signed by Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) and Dartmouth-Hitchcock-Health (D-HH) paves the way for the two organizations to develop a multi-specialty physician group that will provide services to patients throughout Southwestern Vermont. The new physician group, tentatively named Dartmouth-Hitchcock Bennington, will combine a variety of physician practices presently operated by Southwestern Vermont Health Care.

“This agreement will help ensure that the SVHC service area continues to have access to high-quality physicians,” explained Thomas A. Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care. “Nationally a physician shortage makes recruiting top-quality physicians a greater challenge than ever before. Working with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health will improve our ability to recruit new physicians to our area and increase the types of services we can provide to our region.”

The agreement, which is non-binding, is the result of discussions between SVHC and D-HH that began in May. It establishes the process by which the two organizations will jointly create the new physician group. At the same time, it provides some general outlines for the contract under which the new physician group would form and operate.

“We believe that both federal and state health care reform initiatives provide opportunities for health care providers such as D-HH and SVHC to collaborate to design new and better ways of delivering high-quality and accessible care,” said Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health President Thomas A. Colacchio, MD. “This closer working relationship between Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Southwestern Vermont will enhance the value of health care locally and improve the planning and coordination of services between our organizations.”

In May 2011, SVHC chose to affiliate with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health as a key part of its strategic plan, a process that included assessing affiliation opportunities. Dee said that SVHC chose Dartmouth-Hitchcock for several reasons, including their focus on physician relationships, their experience in partnering with other organizations, their reputation for quality care, their advanced thinking around health care reform, and a general cultural “fit.”

SVHC and D-HH already have begun ironing out the arrangement that will form the new physician group. Dee and Colacchio said that they expect the process to be completed by the summer of 2012.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work more closely with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health,” Dee explained. “Creating a new physician group with the expertise of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health will be good for patients, and it will prepare both SVHC and D-HH for the future of health care reform.”

About Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health: D-HH is a nationally recognized, integrated, health system designed to efficiently coordinate resources, expand access to the specialized services and research available at New Hampshire’s only academic medical center, and enhance the value and quality of care in communities throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care is a non-profit, integrated health system serving communities in Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts. SVHC is made up of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, the VNA and Hospice of SVHC, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, the SVMC Northshire and Deerfield Valley Campuses, and Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center. Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is Vermont’s first Magnet hospital for nursing excellence and home to the region's only breast care program fully accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.

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