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Contact: Jane Dunbar (603) 542-1836 Deborah Kimbell (603) 653-1913 deborah.kimbell@hitchcock.o


Valley Regional Healthcare's Board of Trustees votes to sign Memorandum of Understanding with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance
Claremont, NH Valley Regional Healthcares Board of Trustees tonight voted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enter into an agreement with the DartmouthHitchcock Alliance. The MOU, approved during the Boards regular monthly meeting on October 15, is a major step toward solidifying an affiliation with the Alliance. This is absolutely a positive step for Valley Regional Hospital, for Claremont and for all of Sullivan County, says Allen R. Damren, assistant superintendent of schools in Claremont and chair of the VRH board of directors. Weve taken our assessment of the proposed affiliation very seriously and would not be recommending this step if we felt at all uneasy about it. Valley Regional Hospital began exploring an affiliation approximately two years ago at the behest of hospital President Claire Bowen, whose five-year strategic plan (launched in October 2000) includes the formation of mutually beneficial partnerships with other local health care providers. After undergoing a rigorous due diligence process with the DHA, which included the submission of a five-year financial plan by Valley Regional, the DHA Board of Directors voted to sign the MOU at their meeting on Sept. 24. Having the Memorandum of Understanding signed is an important step because it allows the parties to begin openly exploring the possibility of Alliance membership with a larger audience, most importantly Valley Regional staff and the community, said Bowen. Neither Valley Regional Hospital nor the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance are committing to anything formal at this stage. What the VRH board has done is indicate a strong interest in pursuing an affiliation, and our intention to move forward in this process. Now we need to expand that discussion beyond our boards and into our larger community. According to Bowen, Valley Regional will host public information meetings in November and December to discuss the affiliation and invite comments from the community. Bowen noted that some of the key benefits of affiliating with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance include the opportunity to participate in regional planning with other Alliance members, which will strengthen and expand local and regional availability of specialty services. It would also improve the coordination of patient care among other Alliance organizations, expand opportunities for medical staff education and recruitment, and provide access to cost-effective shared services such as information services and materials management. The major message wed like to communicate is that our primary motivationboth Valley Regional Hospitals and the DHAsis our patients, and the health status of our community, says Bowen. This is truly a win-win situation. We are extremely pleased to have reached this stage in our discussions with Valley Regional, said James W. Varnum, President of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance. Valley Regional is an important resource for this area and the community it serves. Noting that a major goal of the Alliance is to improve patients health throughout the region by joining together health care

organizations and professionals as part of a network to provide a complete continuum of highquality, cost-effective care in a predominantly rural environment, Varnum said, We believe having Valley Regional in this group makes sense for the Alliance and for our region. Once the MOU is formally signed by both boards, the New Hampshire Office of Charitable Trusts will review it to ensure the affiliation will maintain Valley Regional Hospitals charitable mission. This review can take as long as 120 days. The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance is a group of local hospitals, mental health centers, and home health care agencies. Each member is an independently owned and operated nonprofit organization, overseen by its own board of directors, with its own budget, and supported, in part, by charitable gifts raised in each community. The other members of the Alliance are: Central Vermont Medical Center, Barre, Vermont Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Northampton, Massachusetts Gifford Medical Center, Randolph, Vermont Mt. Ascutney Hospital, Windsor, Vermont North Country Hospital, Newport, Vermont Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, St. Johnsbury, Vermont Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, Colebrook, New Hampshire Visiting Nurse Alliance of Vermont and New Hampshire, Inc., NH and VT Weeks Medical Center, Lancaster, New Hampshire West Central Behavioral Health, Lebanon, New Hampshire Valley Regional Hospital is a 45-bed acute care facility in Claremont, NH. Serving all residents of Sullivan County since 1893, Valley Regional offers a wide range of health services, including a 24-hour physician-staffed emergency room. Staff specialties include anesthesiology, behavioral health, cardiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, family practice, gastroenterology, general surgery, geriatrics, internal medicine, neurology, obstetrics & gynecology, oncology, ophthalmology, oral & maxillofacial surgery, orthopaedics, otolaryngology, pathology, pediatrics, plastic & reconstructive surgery, podiatry, psychiatry, pulmonology, radiology, rheumatology and urology. ###