Councilor Worries About Too Much Health Care Competition in Haverhill

Newburyport-based Anna Jaques plans to consolidate its existing Haverhill operations into a new building on the site of Pilgrim lanes, 600 Primrose St.

City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien.

City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien.

A Haverhill city councilor said she is concerned a planned Primrose Street medical building will “encroach” on services already offered by the local hospital, but Anna Jaques Hospital said the project simply consolidates existing Haverhill-based services and adds more local physicians.

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien said this week she plans to place the matter on next week’s city council agenda.

“It alarms me to think that a hospital that is so difficult to get to from Haverhill thought they could encroach on Haverhill,” Daly O’Brien said. While the medical building that will replace Pilgrim Lanes, 600 Primrose St., is already allowed by right to build on the commercial site, she says her goal is to raise awareness of the value of Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley. “It does a darn good job of taking care of all of us, especially in emergencies,” she said.

Anna Jaques Hospital President and CEO Mark L. Goldstein.

Anna Jaques Hospital President and CEO Mark L. Goldstein.

Anna Jaques Hospital President and CEO Mark L. Goldstein confirmed the Newburyport-based hospital plans to break ground this year on a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot building. He said, however, the hospital already has a large and growing presence in Haverhill.

“The plan is to relocate and centralize all of our services in one location in a way that provides patients good access and good parking for private physician offices.” Goldstein explained Anna Jaques offers children and women’s health care in a 10,000-square-foot space at Central Plaza downtown and, within the last six months, opened physicians’ offices at Summer and Mill Streets. The newest office, providing primary care services, is branded as Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare-Haverhill, but is affiliated with Anna Jaques.

O’Brien said she had previously planned to place an item on the council agenda after hearing concerns from Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley nurses.

“They have been very concerned that maybe the people in Haverhill didn’t really know about all of the services that are available at Merrimack Valley and the quality of those services as well as the quality of the staff there,” O’Brien said. “It’s my hometown hospital and I’m loyal to that hospital. I worked there off and on since I was 16 years old and a junior in high school and I was working at the first Hale Hospital, which was on Buttonwoods Ave.,” she added. O’Brien now works as a nurse in Peabody.

O’Brien worries there is not enough business in Haverhill to sustain Anna Jaques as well as Holy Family Hospital and Pentucket Medical Associates (PMA). Goldstein, however, said Anna Jaques already maintains a good relationship with PMA and patients will continue going to the hospital closest to them.

“In an emergency, they will use the closest hospital. Patients will choose where they have services. We won’t exclude them from using Merrimack Valley,” he said. Goldstein pointed out Holy Family in Haverhill doesn’t offer certain services such as cancer care, obstetrics and pediatric psychiatric care. As for PMA, he said, Anna Jaques relies on PMA for many services, including radiology. The array of services to be offered on Primrose Street is still being decided.

Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley is the former city-owned Hale Hospital. Haverhill went into the hospital business in 1931 and opened the new Lincoln Avenue building in 1984. After suffering financial losses, the city sold the hospital in 2001 to Nashville, Tenn.-based Essent Healthcare. In 2011, Essent sold the hospital to Steward Health Care System which merged Methuen-based Holy Family Hospital with the then-Merrimack Valley Hospital in 2014.

Goldstein said Anna Jaques is on schedule for groundbreaking for the new building this summer. “We very thoughtfully worked with the site, the final size of building and parking…it will be a very tastefully done location.”

9 thoughts on “Councilor Worries About Too Much Health Care Competition in Haverhill

  1. Councilor O’Brien I respectfully disagree. I have lived here my whole life and I have been going to Anna Jaques for 27 years. It takes 20 minutes to get there very easily. I also work in healthcare and can tell u I receive minimum 20 calls a day asking if we are taking new patients stating they do not want to go to STEWARD or PARTNERS. The HPC also has an anti non competitive act trying to go before congress to try to stop these large physician groups from stopping competition. This is not about Holy Family Haverhill people see the name Steward before that. I for one do not want to be bullied by any group and want to go where I feel is the best treatment which may or may not be in Haverhill. Some of my Drs are in Haverhill. Where government focus should be is stopping these physician groups Steward Partners and yes Beth Israel from forcing patients to see only there Drs no matter what. I am involved in this daily and they do not care about the patient it comes down to the bottom line $$$$$$. They want patients to stay within the referral circle no matter what. I don’t know if you are just talking to your friends or employees but I can tell you I hear it everyday from people I do not know living in Haverhill that do not want Steward and Partners and want another option.

    • O’Brien is protecting her buddies and friends – make no mistake about that. What you stated is 100% correct. O’Brien couldn’t care less about you as a citizen of Haverhill if she tried.

      You made excellent points – good for you!

  2. My favorite part was when she said that Anna Jacques is so difficult to get to from Haverhill. It’s 3 towns away.

    If she was that loyal to Merrimack Valley Hospital, she would still work there. Give us a break!

  3. If the Anna Jaques facility in Haverhill doesn’t make enough money in Haverhill to sustain itself, it will go away, and ditto for Holy Family. Seems to me, though, that the idea of consolidating Anna Jaques services makes some sense rather than to let the intended site remain vacant, go to ruin, and then we wring our hands trying to find a tenant for the spot.

    On one hand we are looking for outside businesses to fill our vacancies, and on the other — City Councilors like Daly-Obrien agonize and waste time and effort on nonsensical discussions that another healthcare entity in town will be taking business away from the existing “in town” facilities. Sounds like the old Urban Renewal rhetoric to me, when the existing merchants didn’t want anyone new in town….. didn’t want any competition. Now they have gone away or can’t provide what people need and/or are looking for, and we have nothing more to offer. So what has Haverhill gained? NOTHING.

    As a healthcare user, I am looking for the BEST treatment I can get; and that DOESN’T always mean Holy Family. Leave it alone, Daley-O’Brien, and let the market and its customers decide which facility is more appropriate.

  4. Since when is competition in not-so-free markets a bad thing? We are already victims of a monopoly in Haverhill via CONcast (champion of worst customer service in country for multiple years running), so what gives?

    Meanwhile, low-income/40B housing is booming stuffing as many unproductive humans as possible in Haverhill, but a business that would actually create GOOD jobs is now a bad thing? Holy H-E-L-L.

  5. Amazing ! ! Obviously, she should recuse herself from this very subject. She has an interest in keeping competition out of Haverhill. This from a councilor who questioned the size of the apartments a developer was proposing as if she knew better than market studies and what the developer could afford to build and what profit he could not make doing so. Unreal. Almost as bad as a previous councilor asking: “what goes into this gas pipeline”, while discussing the natural gas pipeline years ago.

    Only in Haverhill are councilors allowed to be involved in issues that directly effect themselves. Kind of allowing a councilor who was a lobbyist for the police union to vote on the police contract. Hysterical !

  6. This is absolute INSANITY !!!!
    Government officials are NOT elected to impose their subjective, uneducated, unsubstantiated, biased opinions into private business matters.

    Councilor O’Brien…do you know anything about how free markets work, especially when it comes to providing healthcare services? The VERY BEST thing that could happen to the citizens of surrounding Haverhill is for competition to come into the area!!!!!
    Competition improves the delivery of services.
    Competition drives out under performing organizations and individuals.
    Competition drives down costs.
    Competition gives customers choices.
    Competition is a job creator.

    Councilors….do any of you think that Anna Jacques is just randomly deciding to invest capital into a facility in Haverhill without having conducted a thorough market analysis to decide, in advance, that there is a need for the services they intend to provide and that they will be able to operate at a profit? That is how a business is run. It’s not run like government where people think up an idea based on subjective opinions, or outside influences, and then just go out and try something not worrying if it works or if they lose money.

    Councilor O’Brien…in talking with the nurses at the Haverhill Holy Family Hospital did they complain to you that they are getting paid substantially more on a per hour basis than the nurses doing the exact same jobs at the Methuen Holy Family Hospital? You really need to be a bit more thoughtful on the fights you pick. You being a nurse delivering healthcare services is not a qualification for deciding on community healthcare business matters.