MV Hospital-MGH deal is done, as state approves
The Martha's Vineyard Hospital Tuesday received state approval for an agreement that cedes ownership of the Vineyard's private nonprofit hospital founded in 1929 to Mass General Hospital.
Following a public hearing the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) public health council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a transfer of ownership and licensing to Mass General Hospital.
Pending the completion of the necessary paperwork the hospital will become one of a group of hospitals, health clinics, and physicians' organizations owned by Partners HealthCare System, a nonprofit founded in 1994 by MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital, both in Boston.
Hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh said the hearing was fairly uneventful. "I think they thought this was nothing but a positive development," he said.
The council members' questions focused mostly on the workings and makeup of the board, and maintaining the hospital's community identity, according to Mr. Walsh.
He explained that under the agreement 80 percent of the board would be locally appointed. Partners would appoint 20 percent.
Mr. Walsh said that all of the public comments were positive. That included a statement by Cape and Islands Senator Robert O'Leary who attended the hearing to support the deal.
Mr. Walsh said the senator told the commissioners that the agreement was a positive development for the island hospitals. "It was really nice to have Senator O'Leary there on behalf of the transaction," said Mr. Walsh. "He has been involved in the process all along and I think it was very helpful to have him testify to the public health council."
Yesterday in a telephone call to The Times, Senator O'Leary said he attended the hearing because he has followed the hospital's efforts and wanted to lend his support. "I frankly think this is a unique opportunity for the Vineyard and I thought it was important to say that," he said.
Asked what happens next, Mr. Walsh told The Times, "Everything else is just paper flying around." The official change is expected to take place by February, he said, perhaps earlier.
The DPH staff summary presented at the hearing said that there were no comments submitted by interested parties. The summary includes a project description.
"The parties (MGH and the hospital) believe that combining the hospital services and other activities at the hospital with the resources of MGH and Partners will enhance the hospital's ability to become clinically superior, financially more secure, and better able to respond to the health care needs of its year-round and seasonal island residents," read the staff report. "In addition, as part of the transfer, MGH has agreed to transfer $5,000,000 to the hospital to support the hospital's capital needs, as well as to provide capital support related to the implementation of a state-of-the-art information and medical records system at the hospital."
The DPH approval came with the condition that the hospital provides timely and competent interpreter services. The approval sets out seven recommendations related to policies and procedures for the use of interpreter services, data collection on patient's race, ethnicity and language, signage in the primary languages based on a needs assessment and continuing community outreach.
The New Year brings many changes and much work for hospital officials who have spent this year working to reach their fundraising goal of $42 million to build a new hospital, gain the approval of the Martha's Vineyard Commission for their building plan and conclude a deal with Partners that would cement the future of the hospital.
On Dec. 7 the MVC unanimously approved the hospital board's plans to build a new hospital on its current Eastville site. Two days later on Dec. 9 the hospital board signed an agreement with Partners.