By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – A new partnership between Lifespan’s Women’s Medicine Collaborative and OB-GYN Associates Inc. was officially announced Thursday, linking one of the state’s largest obstetrics and gynecological practices with the state’s largest multidisciplinary outpatient center focused on the health needs of women.
The move, first reported by Providence Business News on April 8, further realigns the delivery of health care services for women in Rhode Island, strengthening Lifespan’s network of services for women’s health.
In August 2011, Lifespan launched the Women’s Medicine Collaborative, made up of former providers from Women & Infants Hospital, creating an outpatient center for women’s care provided in a single location. Today, the center sees more than 20,000 individual patients a year.
“This closer collaboration with OB-GYN Associates supports our mission of providing compassionate, high-quality care by a cohesive group of providers, and is the natural next step in the development of a comprehensive, one-stop resource for women’s health,” said Dr. Karen Rosene-Montella, Lifespan’s senior vice president for women’s services and clinical integration. “This partnership reinforces our commitment to providing the best patient-centered care in the most cost-effective setting and we are extremely pleased that such a well-established and respected practice is joining the Lifespan system.”
For OB-GYN Associates – which has offices in Providence, East Providence, Wakefield, and East Greenwich in Rhode Island and in Swansea and North Attleboro, Mass., and whose practitioners see about 40,000 individual patients a year – one of the major attractions of the new partnership was the business infrastructure provided by Lifespan, according to OB-GYN’s Dr. John Bert.
In the new health care landscape, Bert said, “the challenge for physicians going forward is to try and maintain quality and keep costs under control. The new partnership provides us with a business infrastructure beyond the capacity of our private practice.”
In addition, Bert continued, “this affiliation with Lifespan’s Women’s Medicine Collaborative will give our patients more options, while not diminishing our presence at Women & Infants’ Hospital, especially as our patients will continue to deliver their babies at Women & Infants Hospital. Our affiliation with Lifespan will give us, and our patients, more seamless access to our colleagues across the full medical specialty spectrum for consultation and collaboration,” he said.
The new partnership is a great fit, according to Dr. Rebecca W. Randall of OB-GYN Associates. “This association will promote easier access to the women of Rhode Island for the care they need – primary care, obstetrical care, behavioral health care – every medical specialty under the sun,” Randall told the Providence Business News. “We’re trying to make a seamless transition for our patients as possible.”
No new investments in services are planned, according to Randall, Bert, and Rosene-Montella.
In a statement provided earlier this month to Providence Business News, Care New England spokeswoman May Kernan criticized the outcomes of such a move.
Women & Infants, Kernan said, “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.”
The potential realignment, Kernan continued, will drive “further fragmentation in the coordination of patient care, it will drive up the cost of care and most certainly will drive a wedge into the collaborative framework of partnership that Care New England is working to build.”