The parent of 229-bed Winchester Hospital said Friday it has struck a formal affiliation agreement to become part of Lahey Health, which operates Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Beverly Hospital, and Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester.
Lahey Health and Winchester Healthcare Management signed a letter of intent in June to affiliate. The formal agreement disclosed Friday is subject to state and federal regulatory approval. The parties said Winchester Hospital patients would maintain access to their hospital-affiliated doctors but be referred to Lahey specialists for more complex clinical procedures.
The acquisition is part of the continuing consolidation in the Massachusetts hospital sector. Lahey has been expanding, especially north of Boston, in recent months.
In August, the Globe reported Lahey representatives met with from Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport to discuss a possible affiliation, and signed an agreement with Atrius Health that designates Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington as a preferred hospital for the medical group’s patients in the Burlington area.
The Globe also reported in August that Lahey has held ongoing talks to merge with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Ellen Lutch Bender, president of Bender Strategies, a Newton health care consulting firm, told the Globe that he thinks Lahey is positioning itself as an attractive option to smaller hospitals that realize they cannot continue to operate independently.
“As hospitals are perusing alignment strategies, there will be very few institutions that will be standing alone at the end of the day. Nobody wants to be the hospital that doesn’t have a seat at the table when the music stops,” Bender said.
The Globe also reported in August that, with the help of a $130 million tax-exempt bond awarded by the state, Lahey Health plans to spend over $170 million on its hospital facilities, with a new $162 million electronic medical records system as the centerpiece.
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, issued the bond to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in June.
Dr. Howard Grant, Lahey Health’s chief executive officer, said the hospital also plans to purchase medical equipment for radiology, operating rooms, cancer services, information technology infrastructure, and telemetry monitors. Lahey will spend over $12 million to build a new cogeneration power plant at its Burlington medical center, the Globe reported in August.