health care

New potential realignment in women’s health

Lifespan, in response to questions about the potential purchase, did not confirm or deny that there was a potential purchase pending. Rather, Lifespan said: “There are no acquisition announcements.”
Posted 4/8/13

PROVIDENCE – Lifespan is in negotiations and close to finalizing the purchase of OB-GYN Associates Inc., one of the largest obstetric-gynecological medical practices in Rhode Island, according to a number of sources familiar with the proposed acquisition.

Lifespan, in response to questions about the potential purchase, did not confirm or deny that there was a potential purchase pending. Rather, Lifespan said: “There are no acquisition announcements.”

When pressed further, Gail Carvelli, Lifespan spokeswoman, said: “Lifespan does continue to talk to providers to explore better ways to provide integrated care in what is becoming a more patient-centric model of care delivery.”

OB-GYN Associates, which has 19 practitioners, including obstetric gynecologists, midwives, gynecologists and nurse practitioners, did not respond to numerous inquiries by the reporter for comment.

The ob-gyn practice has offices in Providence, East Providence, Wakefield, and East Greenwich in Rhode Island and in Swansea and North Attleboro in Massachusetts.

The landing page of its website touts the fact that the practice is now offering da Vinci Robotic Surgery for patients requiring procedures such as hysterectomy, myomectomy, ovarian cystectomy, and surgery for endometriosis.

Care New England, which said that it had no direct knowledge of OB-GYN Associates’ acquisition by Lifespan, called the medical group “a distinguished and valued practice affiliated with Women & Infants Hospital since its formation.”

In a statement provided to Providence Business News by Care New England spokeswoman May Kernan, Women & Infants said that it “has developed the facilities, programs and staff to create a nationally recognized center of excellence in women's health which brings great benefit to this community. Having one system attempt to dismantle what another system has successfully built is not the best use of scarce community resources.”

Criticizing the outcomes of such a move, the statement continued, saying that the potential realignment would drive “further fragmentation in the coordination of patient care, it [would drive] up the cost of care and most certainly [would drive] a wedge into the collaborative framework of partnership that Care New England is working to build.”

The roots of the conflict between Lifespan and Care New England over alignment of women’s health resources in Rhode Island began in September 2011, when Lifespan opened its outpatient center, Women’s Health Collaborative, staffed by practitioners who had previously worked at Women & Infants.

In response, in December 2011, Care New England redefined its relationship with a number of ob-gyn group practices, creating the Women & Infants Health Care Alliance, a partnership with 24 private practices designed to foster continuous quality improvement in women’s health.

Women & Infants delivers about 8,400 newborns a year, 73 percent of all the births in Rhode Island, according to Constance A. Howes, president and CEO of Women & Infants.

Howes, saying she had not heard that the arrangement between Lifespan and OB-GYN Associates had been finalized, voiced concern over how the new alignment would create more fragmentation in the delivery of health care services for women.

“There has been tremendous support and investment over the years in building a center of excellence for women’s health,” she said. “If you take pieces away, how have you improved the situation for the community.”

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