After 60 Years, Beth Israel And Hebrew SeniorLife Get A Little Formal

Dr. Kevin Tabb, chief of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

As a Goldberg, I reserve the right to tell dark Jewish jokes, and here’s one of my favorites:

A 95-year-old Jewish man and his 94-year-old wife storm into the rabbi’s office and tell him they want a divorce — now.

“Calm down, calm down,” the rabbi tells them. “Sol, Goldie, you’ve been married, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, for over seventy years. Why get a divorce now?”

“We would have done it long ago,” Goldie huffs. “But we were waiting for the children to die.”

The news that brought that old chestnut to mind concerns a somewhat opposite phenomenon: After 60 years of working closely together, Hebrew SeniorLife and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are taking a step a little like a marriage. They have signed a formal preferred provider agreement.

“After 60 years, we decided to make it official,” said Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center spokesman Jerry Berger. “There was never a formal written agreement. This is the first formal written agreement.”

The looming next stage of health reform is prompting many hospitals to get their organizational ducks into a row. Last week brought the announcement that Partners Healthcare and South Shore Hospital had moved a formal step closer.

From today’s press release:

BOSTON – After 60 years of a close working relationship, Hebrew SeniorLife and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, along with Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC, have signed a formal preferred provider agreement. The agreement is a recommitment of a 60-year clinical affiliation which aims to provide the highest quality, cost-effective hospital and post-hospital care, including ensuring seamless transition between institutions.

Driven by a commitment to reduce avoidable hospitalization and readmission, the goals of the agreement are to improve transitions of care for patients, other quality care metrics such as improved access, as well sharing of electronic medicals records to ensure timely and accurate communication about patients shared between institutions.

It also expands the possible scope of services beyond Hebrew SeniorLife’s traditional post-acute and long-term care. Potential areas of future collaboration include home health, evidenced-based prevention and wellness services, and programs for healthy aging communities.

While the agreement is not exclusive, the clinical affiliation reflects a strong preferential relationship. Each of the three parties – HSL, BIDMC and HMFP – will also collaborate with other health care providers to serve specific geographic diversity of their patient populations.

HSL and BIDMC will also focus on programs to improve communications between patients and families and their primary care physicians and specialists when patients are transferred between facilities, ensuring clarity about each patient’s clinical status and a seamless transition of care plans and goals of care.

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