Merger-mania trend continues as Partners plans to acquire Care New England Health System

Partners HealthCare announced plans to acquire Care New England Health System, the second largest health system in Rhode Island.

The announcement comes as a Kaufman Hall analysis found that healthcare “merger-mania” continued at a breakneck pace in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017.

There was an 8% increase in the number of transactions compared with the first quarter of 2016, according to the analysis. The first quarter was especially notable because a number of big-name providers announced deals, the largest of which is a planned deal between Massachusetts-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health System.

“As the number of independent hospitals declines, organizations are seeking to build new capabilities and economies of scale through partnerships,” Anu Singh, managing director of Kaufman Hall, said in the report.

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Care New England has been aligned with Partners since 2009, according to the announcement, when the system established a clinical relationship with Brigham and Women’s Hospital for cardiology and vascular, thoracic and colorectal surgery care. The system’s Butler Hospital is also already aligned with Partners’ McLean Hospital for behavioral healthcare and research.

The systems, which are both not-for-profits, have signed a letter of intent and are working toward a more definitive deal, according to the announcement. Executives at both systems said the merger is an opportunity to improve patient care in the communities they serve.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for both organizations to further advance their commitment to high-quality health care, access to leading-edge clinical treatment, world-class academics, and most importantly, enhanced opportunities for patients,” Dennis Keefe, Care New England CEO, said in the announcement. “I believe both organizations are uniquely aligned in our commitments to the community and together we will proceed with focus and collaboration.”

The acquisition would include five Care New England facilities: Kent Hospital in Warwick; Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence; VNA of Care New England in Warwick; Butler Hospital in Providence; and the Providence Center, which has multiple locations. The system selected to align with Partners after reviewing 12 potential offers, according to the announcement.