New Health Partnership Aims for Better Care for Merrimack Valley Residents

November 08, 2017

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) and Lawrence General Hospital announced that Dr. Dean Cleghorn of Haverhill has been named Chief Executive Officer of the Merrimack Valley Accountable Care Organization. The new Accountable Care Organization entered into an exclusive agreement with managed care partner Neighborhood Health Plan to form the Merrimack Valley Health Partnership, which will be known as My Care FamilySM to its nearly 36,000 MassHealth members in the region.

My Care Family will provide high-quality, efficient, coordinated health care to MassHealth patients in the Greater Lawrence area, where many residents face financial and social challenges to accessing care and to maintaining their health. My Care Family unites the resources and expertise of three health care leaders with decades of experience co-managing patients in the region and harnessing existing community resources to meet the distinctive medical and behavioral health needs of the community.

Dean Cleghorn received his academic training in the state of Tennessee, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Lee College and both Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Educational and School Psychology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Dean came to Lawrence in 1996 to work in the Lawrence Family
Medicine Residency Program. He was the Principal Investigator for a CDC grant, called Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH). Largely because of this work in 2010, Dean received the Commissioner’s Leadership Award for Taking Action for Community Health and Equity. In recent years, as Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer, Dean continued to build new capacity for business intelligence, producing excellent clinical outcomes, while striving to transform systems of care for the predominantly Latino population served by GLFHC.
“I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity to further advance the quality of care in the Lawrence area through the partnerships among Lawrence General, GLFHC, and NHP,” Cleghorn says, “These three organizations have a great history of innovation and quality care for this community. Having worked here for over two decades, I participated in many innovative projects with all three organizations. Collectively, they bring together professional expertise, dedication, and commitment that is truly exceptional. I know firsthand the results of these characteristics—GLFHC is my primary care provider and I have repeatedly chosen Lawrence General for needed emergency and inpatient care, always with high quality outcomes. Despite their resource limitations, I have found great resilience among patients and a strong determination to participate actively to improve their own health. I can’t imagine a better place to be part of reforming health care than My Care Family in the Merrimack Valley.”
GLFHC President and CEO John Silva agrees, “As founders of the Merrimack Valley Accountable Care Organization we are very excited to add a longtime community health system professional like Dr. Dean Cleghorn, as we, together with Neighborhood Health Plan, embark upon improving quality and access in a true health care system in the Merrimack Valley.”
Dianne J. Anderson, RN, President and CEO at Lawrence General Hospital, adds, “We’re so pleased to be able to leverage Dean’s many years of experience, his strong focus on clinical quality, and his knowledge of this population of patients. He is already a very engaged member of the team that is building this product. We know him well and we are looking forward to his leadership moving our efforts forward.”

David Segal, President and CEO of Neighborhood Health Plan, shared his enthusiasm about My Care Family as a groundbreaking health care initiative, “The health care industry can promise better outcomes at lower cost by improving the coordination of existing resources around chronic conditions and disease management, and further emphasis on prevention. Neighborhood looks forward to building on the long-standing relationship we’ve had with our two partners in support of our mission by providing member-centered, high quality health care services to one of the state’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.”
My Care Family is one of 17 Accountable Care Organizations statewide—representing 4,500 primary care providers and 850,000 MassHealth patients across the state—selected by the Baker-Polito Administration in June to spearhead the first major overhaul of the state’s Medicaid program in 20 years.
The comprehensive, five-year MassHealth overhaul, set to begin in March 1, 2018, aims to evolve from the existing fee-for-service payment method that reimburses doctors and hospitals for each treatment or procedure provided. In its place, the state hopes to expand more integrated, comprehensive and efficient systems that reward innovations able to preserve quality and affordability. By empowering patients with information that allows them to better weigh the risks and rewards of various treatment options, both medically and financially, accountable care organizations make patients more active participants in their own care, as well as encourage patients to lead healthier lives. Within the My Care Family partnership itself, there are financial incentives for providers to focus on preventive resources that improve patient health, while avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits and costly, preventable hospital readmissions.

Individual MassHealth members will be cared for by My Care Family interdisciplinary teams consisting of nurses, doctors, behavioral health professionals, social service providers, and others impacting community health. These team members will be held accountable for working together to ensure that total health needs are met in a member-centric way that results in high quality and efficient care, delivered in cost-appropriate settings for patients and families.