The members of Porter Medical Center in Middlebury voted unanimously Wednesday to join the University of Vermont Health Network. Its board approved the move in February.
Porter will officially join the network in April and have a community launch May 11, the hospital announced Thursday.
“This vote by our members, by our community, is an historic powerful confirmation of the very diligent, comprehensive and forward-looking strategic planning process we have been engaged in for more than a year,” said Maureen McLaughlin, the board chair, in a news release.
The hospital’s board said in August it was in talks to join the network. That was several months after a new CEO resigned amid financial difficulties and staffing cuts. The board then declared its intention to join the network in October.
“Our underlying motivation was ensuring continued local access to high-quality health care services, with a focus on clinical integration, improving our facilities, and ensuring our overall financial strength to ensure that Porter remains a strong, integral partner in this community for the next 100 years,” McLaughlin said.
Porter becomes the third Vermont hospital and sixth hospital overall to be under the umbrella of the UVM Health Network. The other Vermont hospitals are the flagship UVM Medical Center in Burlington, which is a joint owner of OneCare Vermont, and Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin.
In upstate New York, the network controls Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, and Elizabethtown Community Hospital in Elizabethtown.
The affiliate hospitals do not sell their assets to the network but give up some of their governance powers and must have their budgets, capital investments and CEO hires approved by the board of trustees of the UVM Health Network. Dr. John Brumsted, the CEO of the UVM Medical Center, is also the CEO of the UVM Health Network.
In the news release, Brumsted called Porter’s decision “very significant because of the deliberative process, including a special effort to include the whole community to carefully examine all of the options.” He said the Middlebury community would benefit from the affiliation.
Dr. Fred Kniffin, who took over in March 2016, will remain CEO of Porter Medical Center. The hospital’s name will be rebranded over time to UVM Health Network-Porter Medical Center.
Correction: It was members of the Porter Medical Center community that voted Wednesday to join the UVM Health Network, not the board of directors, which voted on the move in February.