m-brunhealthcare-012109 Health-care groups plan merger
BRUNSWICK – Bowdoin Medical Group and Martin's Point Health Care of Portland are negotiating a merger that would create Maine's largest independent primary-care medical group.
The health-care providers have signed a letter of intent, which Martin's Point spokesman Dave Garrison said on Monday "commits both parties only to a full and honest effort to work out the details for an affiliation."
No final decision is expected for at least several months, and an affiliation should cause no changes to patient services, according to a prepared statement issued last week.
Garrison said discussions have been primarily structural, legal, philosophical and culture-related. "Now the real work begins," he said, "as Bowdoin Medical and Martin's Point create working groups of employees from both organizations to determine what steps would need to be taken if the organizations are to affiliate."
If the two parties reach an agreement, Garrison said, Bowdoin Medical is expected to become a wholly owned but independently operating part of Martin's Point Health Care. It would operate under its own board of directors, which would report to the board of directors of Martin's Point. Martin's Point now has two such affiliates: the Martin's Point Medical Group and Evergreen Woods Primary Care, Garrison said.
"It is a challenging time for independent primary care organizations across the country and many are looking at ways to collaborate," said Dr. David Howes, Martin's Point president and CEO, adding that the two entities "are both dedicated to exceptional patient service and quality care. An affiliation would only serve to enhance the level of care our communities receive and allow us to work together toward improving primary health care in Maine."
Garrison said a merger would allow both organizations to focus more on patient care. "Martin's Point has expansive state-of-the-art information technology and patient health tracking systems that will enhance the delivery of care for Bowdoin Medical patients," he said. "Together Martin's Point and Bowdoin Medical Group will have more than 60 providers, making it the largest independent primary care organization in Maine."
Jeff Bland, CEO of Bowdoin Medical Group, explained that in looking to the future of his organization, "it became apparent that joining forces with another organization with similar values and goals would help us continue to provide the high-quality primary care we offer our patients today. Martin's Point, with its focus on primary care, health information technology, patient satisfaction and quality reporting, was a natural fit."
Bland on Monday also said that while there will be some immediate benefits, "really the payoff's going to be long-term."
Bowdoin Medical offers primary care in Biddeford, Gorham, South Portland, West Falmouth and Brunswick. Its physicians are board certified in the fields of family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine and offer care for patients of all ages, and the group also provides the medical staff for Mid Coast Hospital's emergency room in Brunswick.
A not-for-profit regional health care provider, Martin's Point operates health centers in Portland, Brunswick, and Portsmouth, N.H., as well as its Evergreen Woods affiliate in Bangor. The organization administers the U.S. Family Health Plan in Northern New England and New York state along with Medicare Advantage health plans and employer wellness and health management services in Maine.
"With the pressures placed on independent primary-care groups to increase technology, provide greater reporting of results, compete for fewer available physicians, and many other realities of today's primary care environment," Garrison said, "more and more are finding that gaining efficiencies by joining together is the only solution, if they wish to continue practicing."