Health Quest and West. Conn. Health to Create New System

Health Quest Systems, which owns Putnam Hospital Center, and Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) announced plans Wednesday to join forces and create a new healthcare system that would be started by 2019.

Health Quest Systems, which is based in LaGrangeville and serves the Lower Hudson Valley, will team up with the Connecticut-based health system to offer seven different hospitals to patients in the region across two states.

John Murphy, CEO and president of Western Connecticut Health Network, said in the announcement video the single system would better serve the 1.5 million patients in the two networks currently, resulting in more convenient and affordable healthcare.

Health Quest CEO and president Robert Friedberg said the two entities coming together would allow each network to continue great quality services and bring in more physicians.

“What we want to see is patients get their care closer where they live and work,” Friedberg said.

The new health system would result in 2,600 physicians, more than 12,000 employees, and more than 1,500 beds. The new system would also include more than one tertiary care center, Murphy said.

The new system would remain non-profit, which means any of the seven hospitals would continue to see every patient that walks in, regardless of whether they can pay.

“When this process is complete, we will be one new health system,” Friedberg said. “We look forward bringing our two teams together and redefining what health care looks like for our communities. We’ve done great things separately as organizations; together we’re going to do even more.”

Before the combination occurs, the two systems would need to get various approvals from multiple governmental agencies. Until then, both organizations will continue to operate as independent entities and retain their names and corporate offices in New York and Connecticut.

Friedberg said officials from both health networks are working with New York State and the State of Connecticut to nail down every necessary approval.

Once approved, Murphy will be the CEO and Friedberg will serve as president of the new system. The new system’s board of directors will have eight members from Health Quest’s board and eight members from Western Connecticut Health Network’s board to maintain equal representation.

According to a fact sheet from the two health networks, the combination is not a merger because in a merger, two entitles become one and the other entity cease to exist. In this case, HQ and WCHN are going to create a new parent company. A name for the new company hasn’t been determined yet.

When addressing the decision to combine the organizations, the fact sheet stated the entire healthcare industry is changing and the two entities keep navigating through a challenging environment including rising costs, declining reimbursement, and shift to population health and value-based costs. The fact sheet stated HQ and WCNH are two “vibrant, financially sound,” organizations.

“We are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities and engaging in conversations with potential partners,” according to the fact sheet. “It is imperative that we seek healthcare organizations who can help us sustain excellence and drive growth and improvement in new, innovative ways.”