Backus, Hartford HealthCare network exploring affiliation

Norwich — Backus Corporation and Hartford HealthCare Corporation have jointly announced today that they are exploring a formal affiliation of the two healthcare systems.

Backus Corporation is the parent of the Backus Health System, which includes The William W. Backus Hospital, Backus Health Care, Backus Home Health Care, Backus Physician Services, Community Medical Partners, CONNCare and the WWB Corporation.

The two organizations entered into a non-binding letter of intent, beginning a process that is expected to take several months.

If successful, Backus would become a member of the Hartford HealthCare network, which includes Hartford Hospital, the Hospital of Central Connecticut, MidState Medical Center, Natchaug Hospital, Windham Hospital and a wide spectrum of additional pre- and post-acute health services.

The Backus Board of Directors has been reviewing opportunities for strategic alignment for more than a year, and initiated the process of seeking potential partners.

"Backus and Hartford HealthCare have enjoyed a long and beneficial partnership for many years. There is no better example of this than the LIFE STAR program," said David Whitehead, Backus president and chief executive officer. "I am proud to be associated with such a forward-thinking board that has chosen to explore this strategic partnership to create a sustainable system of integrated, high-value healthcare for the regional community of eastern Connecticut."

As part of the process, both health systems will conduct focus groups with key stakeholders — Backus employees, members of the medical staff, its corporators, volunteers, government and community leaders, providers of other health and human services and the community-at-large.

"We want to involve all stakeholders in this discussion as we explore affiliation," Whitehead said. "This represents a unique opportunity to combine complementary strengths, and create an integrated health system for our region."

The signing of a letter of intent is the first of several steps before an affiliation can be created. Both organizations will perform due diligence to determine if an affiliation would be in the best interest of patients and communities served by the institutions. If there is agreement to move forward, a memorandum of understanding followed by a definitive agreement would be created. This final step would require the approval of their respective governing boards, and regulatory approval by appropriate state and federal agencies.

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