LACONIA — Concord Hospital, a possible merger partner for Lakes Region General Hospital, is increasing its footprint in Laconia.

ENT Associates of New Hampshire, with offices in the LRGH Medical Building, today becomes part of the Concord Hospital Medical Group. The practice, which specializes in treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders, had been a service of LRGH.

Also, Laconia Clinic, an affiliate of LRGH, is going through an exploration process concerning aligning with another health care organization, but LRGH President and CEO Kevin Donovan said he doesn’t know of any immediate plans.

“I can tell you I am aware Laconia Clinic is exploring various options to be prudent, but as far as I am aware, there is no imminent change in their status,” he said in an email. “We do not own the Laconia Clinic, but work with them through a Professional Services Agreement, which somewhat functions as a lease arrangement of sorts.”

Last year, Laconia Clinic stopped its walk-in medical services. LRGH has an emergency room, but the closest walk-in, or urgent care clinic to Laconia is now in Belmont.

In 2018, LRGH ended its labor and delivery services. Local women often get prenatal care in Laconia and have their babies at Concord Hospital.

LRGH has crippling debt. The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic led to a furlough of 600 people and could have caused LRGH to close if not for an infusion of state and federal cash.

Donovan has said for a couple years that the organization’s future is tied to finding economic salvation through a merger with or acquisition by a larger company.

He said he had no news to report at this time on that front.

Concord Hospital President and CEO Robert P. Steigmeyer declined an interview request Wednesday. In April, he said he couldn’t be specific about future plans, but that the two hospitals have congruent missions and much in common.

“We know deep down our genetics are similar,” he said at the time. “We’re in a similar place and have a similar mission.”

Both are community-based, not-for-profit institutions. Both remain independent at a time when many healthcare organizations are merging to realize cost reductions from economies of scale. Both already collaborate in many areas and are only about 30 miles apart.

Also in April, Donovan said he was optimistic LRGH was getting close to an announcement of a financial partner. No announcement ever came.

Meanwhile, Concord Hospital put out a news release Wednesday announcing the change of status for ENT Associates and highlighting its growing presence in Laconia.

“The practice will be named Concord Hospital Otolaryngology-Laconia and will continue its three-decade tradition of caring for patients experiencing diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat, as well as head and neck conditions at their five locations throughout the Lakes Region and central New Hampshire,” the statement said.

In the release, Dr. Matthew Gibb, Concord Hospital's chief clinical officer, listed other services the hospital provides in the Laconia area.

"Concord Hospital has been committed to supporting the healthcare needs of patients in the Lakes Region for many decades as evidenced by our presence with Concord Hospital Cardiology-Laconia, Concord Hospital Family Place Prenatal Care and Concord Hospital Vascular Surgery-Laconia," he said.

"Concord Hospital began a collaborative relationship with ENT Associates of New Hampshire earlier this year, which prompted both parties to recognize the benefits of a more permanent relationship for all our patients."

Concord Hospital Otolaryngology includes Doctors Mark F. Kelly, Jason R. Mangiardi, Chandler W. Marietta and Patrick R. Stevens, as well as nurse practitioner Stacy Casella and audiologists Cheryl Dagnon and Shaun McArdle.

It will continue to practice at the LRGH Medical Office Building and at Franklin Regional Hospital. It also has practices in Plymouth, North Conway and Wolfeboro.

Its doctors will continue to operate and perform procedures at LRGH.

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