Valley Regional Healthcare's Board of Trustees votes to sign Memorandum of Understanding with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance

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Valley Regional Healthcare's Board of Trustees votes to sign Memorandum of Understanding with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance

Wed, 10/15/2003 - 8:00pm -- tim

Claremont, NH Valley Regional Healthcare’s Board of Trustees tonight voted to sign a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enter into an agreement with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance.
The MOU, approved during the Board’s regular monthly meeting on October 15, is a major step toward
solidifying an affiliation with the Alliance.
“This is absolutely a positive step for Valley Regional Hospital, for Claremont and for all of Sullivan
County,” says Allen R. Damren, assistant superintendent of schools in Claremont and chair of the VRH
board of directors. “We’ve taken our assessment of the proposed affiliation very seriously and would not be
recommending this step if we felt at all uneasy about it.”
Valley Regional Hospital began exploring an affiliation approximately two years ago at the behest of hospital
President Claire Bowen, whose fi ve-year strategic plan (launched in October 2000) includes the formation
of mutually benefi cial partnerships with other local health care providers. After undergoing a rigorous due
diligence process with the DHA, which included the submission of a fi ve-year fi nancial plan by Valley
Regional, the DHA Board of Directors voted to sign the MOU at their meeting on Sept. 24.
Having the Memorandum of Understanding signed is an important step because it allows the parties to begin
openly exploring the possibility of Alliance membership with a larger audience, most importantly Valley
Regional staff and the community, said Bowen. “Neither Valley Regional Hospital nor the Dartmouth-
Hitchcock Alliance are committing to anything formal at this stage. What the VRH board has done is indicate
a strong interest in pursuing an affi liation, and our intention to move forward in this process. Now we need
to expand that discussion beyond our boards and into our larger community.” According to Bowen, Valley
Regional will host public information meetings in November and December to discuss the affiliation and
invite comments from the community.
Bowen noted that some of the key benefi ts of affi liating with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance include
the opportunity to participate in regional planning with other Alliance members, which will strengthen and
expand local and regional availability of specialty services. It would also improve the coordination of patient
care among other Alliance organizations, expand opportunities for medical staff education and recruitment,
and provide access to cost-effective shared services such as information services and materials management.
“The major message we’d like to communicate is that our primary motivation—both Valley Regional
Hospital’s and the DHA’s—is our patients, and the health status of our community,” says Bowen. “This is
truly a win-win situation.”
“We are extremely pleased to have reached this stage in our discussions with Valley Regional,” said James
W. Varnum, President of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance. “Valley Regional is an important resource for
this area and the community it serves.” Noting that a major goal of the Alliance is to improve patients’ health
throughout the region by joining together health care organizations and professionals as part of a network
to provide a complete continuum of high-quality, cost-effective care in a predominantly rural environment,
Varnum said, “We believe having Valley Regional in this group makes sense for the Alliance and for our
region.”
Once the MOU is formally signed by both boards, the New Hampshire Offi ce of Charitable Trusts will review
it to ensure the affi liation will maintain Valley Regional Hospital’s charitable mission. This review can take as
long as 120 days.
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance is a group of local hospitals, mental health centers, and home health care
agencies. Each member is an independently owned and operated nonprofi t organization, overseen by its own
board of directors, with its own budget, and supported, in part, by charitable gifts raised in each community.
The other members of the Alliance are:
Central Vermont Medical Center, Barre, Vermont

Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Northampton, Massachusetts

Gifford Medical Center, Randolph, Vermont

Mt. Ascutney Hospital, Windsor, Vermont

North Country Hospital, Newport, Vermont

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, St. Johnsbury, Vermont

Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, Colebrook, New Hampshire

Visiting Nurse Alliance of Vermont and New Hampshire, Inc., NH and VT

Weeks Medical Center, Lancaster, New Hampshire

West Central Behavioral Health, Lebanon, New Hampshire
Valley Regional Hospital is a 45-bed acute care facility in Claremont, NH. Serving all residents of Sullivan
County since 1893, Valley Regional offers a wide range of health services, including a 24-hour physicianstaffed
emergency room. Staff specialties include anesthesiology, behavioral health, cardiology, dermatology,
emergency medicine, family practice, gastroenterology, general surgery, geriatrics, internal medicine,
neurology, obstetrics & gynecology, oncology, ophthalmology, oral & maxillofacial surgery, orthopaedics,
otolaryngology, pathology, pediatrics, plastic & reconstructive surgery, podiatry, psychiatry, pulmonology,
radiology, rheumatology and urology.