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Press Release Archive (2016)

Hallmark Health Joins Wellforce

Hallmark Health Board of Trustees approves final agreement to officially join Tufts Medical Center and Circle Health as an equal founding member

The Board of Trustees of Hallmark Health, the parent company of Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, today voted unanimously to finalize and approve the proposed  affiliation agreement with Wellforce, the parent company of Tufts Medical Center and Circle Health (including Lowell General Hospital). The affiliation, which will increase residents’ access to high quality, affordable health care in their communities, will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

“We are excited to embark on this new and important chapter in the history of Hallmark Health. With our Wellforce colleagues we are committed to bringing additional services and resources to patients in our communities for generations to come,” said Alan Macdonald, president and CEO of Hallmark Health. “Our staff and our physicians are looking forward to the tremendous collaboration that is about to begin.”

“With the addition of Hallmark Health, Wellforce physicians and hospitals provide affordable, community-focused care across Eastern Massachusetts,” said Norm Deschene, CEO of Wellforce. “Through this broader affiliation, we’ll share best practices, new ideas and strategies for better, more efficient health care.”

The vote by the Hallmark Health Board of Trustees comes after a six-month period of exclusive discussions between Hallmark Health and Wellforce as well as approvals by all of the necessary state and federal regulatory agencies. By entering the affiliation as a third, equal founding member, Hallmark Health maintains significant governance in the organization, equal representation on the Wellforce board and significant oversight of those decisions that impact Hallmark Health services and promote local access to care. 

“As a member of Wellforce we will be able to provide greater access to services and support the full continuum of care in the most appropriate setting for our patients,” explained Macdonald.  “We will have better access to academic medicine through Tufts Medical Center here in our communities; we will foster a collaborative spirit to share best practices in clinical excellence; and we will have access to capital to keep our facilities and systems strong and up to date.”

 “Wellforce and its member hospitals and physicians have an exceptional clinical expertise and reputation,” said Wayne Wivell, MD, president of the Hallmark Health medical staff.  “We are excited to work together with our new Wellforce peers and explore opportunities for clinical integration of services to bring new levels of care locally for the health of our patients and our communities.”

Wellforce was founded in October of 2014 with the joining of Circle Health and Tufts Medical Center. In just two years, Wellforce has achieved more than $5 million in savings on supplies, services and other synergies for its member organizations. Wellforce organizations have collaborated to bring expert Tufts Medical Center pediatricians, neonatologists, surgeons, ICU specialists and others out of Boston and into the Merrimack Valley.

“This great collaboration has not only benefited our local patients, it has also benefited the members of Wellforce,” said Jody White, President of Lowell General Hospital. “We have experienced increases in volume and more of the area’s sickest and seriously injured people are able to receive care and treatment close to home. More Merrimack Valley patients are selecting Tufts Medical Center over other academic medical centers, ensuring patient care is well coordinated between their community hospital and academic medical center.”

In addition, the more than 400 physicians in the Hallmark Health physician-hospital organization have also joined the New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA), Tufts Medical Center’s network of community physicians, which is part of Wellforce. With the new affiliations, the Wellforce System is nearly 3,000 affiliated physicians strong, offers more than 1,000 inpatient beds for those in need and employs 12,000 staff members.

“Our philosophy is simple — people should not have to travel to Boston for care they could and should receive in the community. We can bring high level care to them, where they live,” said Michael Wagner, MD, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center. “This new affiliation with Hallmark Health presents an exciting opportunity. We will collaborate with excellent community caregivers and extend our value-based services to people in the northern suburbs.”

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Circle Health is a progressive collaboration of physicians, hospitals, other health providers and organizations with a shared vision for empowering people and communities to be healthier.

Wellforce is a health system that is rethinking how academic and community centers, local and national businesses, and technology and service innovators can all work together. So that clinicians can deliver expert care where it's needed most. And so that we can bring wellness back to health care, one person at a time.