UNH Survey: Strong Community Support for Proposed Seacoast Hospital Affiliation
[August 7, 2019/ EXETER/DOVER] NH Seacoast area residents strongly support the proposed affiliation among Exeter Health Resources, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, according to a new poll of 600 participants conducted last month by the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center.
State and federal regulatory agencies are currently in the process of reviewing the proposal to develop a new regional network to collaboratively deliver health care within the Seacoast Region. If approved, the New Hampshire-based, regional, non-profit entity will serve as the parent to Exeter and Wentworth-Douglass and will be part of the Mass General family.
“There is strong public support for an affiliation between these three highly regarded hospitals,” said Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, which has conducted public opinion surveys since 1976. “In particular, Seacoast residents think this proposed affiliation would improve care and provide better access to specialized care.”
The public is invited to attend a public forum in September to learn more about the proposed affiliation, provide feedback and have their questions answered.
Kevin Callahan, president and CEO of Exeter Health Resources, said the survey affirms that the public recognizes and supports the hospital’s vision of providing enhanced, expanded and advanced care within the Seacoast communities. “We proposed this affiliation to enable us to continue to provide incredible care to patients in our local community,” Callahan said. “Through our current collaboration with Mass General for our oncology program – now 10 years strong – we see on a daily basis the kind of quality and expertise Mass General brings to our institution. Their clinical leaders collaborate so well with our outstanding local surgeons, specialists and primary care physicians and we look forward to expanding this relationship to further enhance the care we provide.”
More than half of the respondents surveyed believed the proposed affiliation would improve the quality of care provided at Wentworth-Douglass and Exeter and two-thirds of residents reported they were more positive about the collaboration after learning about the potential for Mass General specialists to provide expanded specialized medical services locally.
“Our goal is to make sure care stays in New Hampshire whenever possible and to back that care up with the highly specialized services we have in Boston when it is appropriate and necessary,” said Peter L. Slavin, MD, Mass General president. “We hope to build upon our already successful affiliation with Wentworth-Douglass and upon the relationships and programs that are thriving at Exeter now.”
Gregory Walker, CEO of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, said since joining the Mass General family three years ago, Wentworth-Douglass has experienced the addition of more specialized programs, including those for heart failure, women’s heart health and behavioral health as well as an expanded tele-health program in neurology. The hospital is also about to launch Epic, the Partners’ system-wide electronic medical record system in October, allowing for more coordinated care and a more seamless experience for patients.
“Our goal with the Mass General affiliation was to enhance care in the Seacoast – and that is what happened,” Walker said. “We have increased access to care, added jobs and brought in more services. We also are adding more lower-cost urgent care and walk-in primary care locations instead of creating expensive new emergency rooms. With Exeter joining the family, this expanded relationship will allow us to strengthen and improve that care to reach even more of our Seacoast residents.”
For more information on the proposed affiliation of Exeter, Wentworth-Douglass and Mass General, visit SeacoastHealthcareInitiative.org.