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425 doctors leaving Tufts physician network to start their own group

The announcement comes on the heels of a failed merger bid between Southcoast and Care New England.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

About 425 physicians from the Massachusetts-based Southcoast Health System will leave the physician network of Tufts Medical Center, departing from the New England Quality Care Alliance to form its own network, the Southcoast Health Network.

The announcement comes on the heels of a failed merger bid between Southcoast and Care New England, which would have created the third largest health system in Massachusetts. The proposed merger had received criticism from SEIU District 1199NE, the largest union of Care New England employees. Jean MacCormack, chair of the Southcoast Health Board of Trustees, said in a statement in October that "it is best for both parties to end affiliation discussions."

An expedited regulatory review requested by the health systems was rejected by Rhode Island officials, and the two groups said they were "parting on amicable terms."

[Also: Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center abandon merger]

"We appreciate our longstanding relationship with the physicians in the New England Quality Care Alliance," said Southcoast spokesperson Peter Cohenno via email. "Southcoast Health has grown significantly since originally joining NEQCA, and we now have the opportunity to continue on our journey and create a clinically integrated network for the South Coast communities. While we still have some significant issues to resolve with NEQCA as our formal relationship comes to a close, we are excited for the future and the creation of the Southcoast Health Network."

Physicians from the Hallmark Health System in Medford, Massachusetts will join the network on January 1, essentially replacing the 425 departed physicians. They announced they would be joining NEQCA in July after Hallmark said it would be acquired by Wellforce, Tufts' parent company.

Southcoast operates four hospitals and outpatient centers throughout Massachusetts. NEQCA includes a network of nearly 1,800 physicians in the state, of which Southcoast physicians were a part for the past six years.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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