UMass Memorial, Harrington file merger plans

Harrington Hospital in Southbridge

UMass Memorial Health Care and the Harrington HealthCare System have filed paperwork for regulatory approval for their plans for Harrington to become part of the UMass Memorial system.

Worcester-based UMass Memorial said Tuesday the two hospital systems filed the first in a series of required filings with state regulatory agencies for their proposed marriage. The review process, to include Massachusetts Health Policy Commission and Attorney General’s Office, is expected to take up to four months.

UMass Memorial and Harrington first said in January they intended on Harrington being folded into the much larger UMass Memorial system, which is the largest employer in Central Massachusetts. Harrington, whose main hospital is in Southbridge, has remained one of a small and shrinking number of independent hospitals in the state.

The two systems already collaborate through a system allowing Harrington care providers to consult remotely with UMass Memorial specialists in caring for critically ill patients. Harrington will also be brought into UMass Memorial’s electronic patient records system as part of the planned integration.

UMass Memorial has committed to operating Harrington’s hospital campuses in Southbridge and Webster as acute-care hospitals for at least five years. Upon regulatory approval, Harrington will join UMass Memorial’s Medical Center in Worcester, Marlborough Hospital and Clinton Hospital.

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