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State's premier medical system gains western toehold

Posted by Ralph Ranalli July 19, 2007 10:01 AM

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FRANKLIN/MILFORD

The physicians' group for Milford Regional Medical Center is joining Partners HealthCare System Inc., giving the state's preeminent medical system a toehold in a key area of the state and enabling it to funnel more patients to its network of downtown teaching hospitals.

Tri-County Medical Associates of Franklin signed an agreement with Partners Community Healthcare Inc., the physician network for the hospital network, last month after two years of negotiations, according to people involved.

A key issue in the discussions was that doctors at Tri-County didn't want to feel obligated to send their patients to Partners hospitals unless local physicians felt they needed specialized care that only those facilities could provide, Globe staff writer Jeffrey Krasner reports in the online edition of today's Business section.

"We were concerned about losing our independence," said Philip Ciaramicoli , chief executive of Tri-County. "We had to feel comfortable that what should be done in the community hospital gets done in the community hospital."

Dr. Thomas H. Lee , chief executive of the Partners' physician organization, said the affiliation agreement doesn't require Tri- County doctors to send patients to Partners hospitals. But should they choose to send patients to Partners hospitals, referrals and medical records transfers will happen more smoothly.

"The board and the doctors asked me 20 times, 'Are we going to have to send our patients to Boston?,' " said Lee. "I told them, 'You send your patients where they need to go.' We'll get the patients who really need to come into town."

Partners Community Healthcare is the largest physicians' network in the state, with more than 4,900 physicians, up from about 4,200 in 2002. Read more about the agreement in today's Globe.

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