Dana-Farber to join with Beth Israel Deaconess to build new cancer hospital

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The move signals a break between Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe

In a major shakeup to the region’s healthcare system, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center announced Thursday that they would team up to build a free-standing inpatient hospital for adult cancer patients. The move essentially cuts the tie between Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which have a decades-long partnership. 

Dana-Farber and Beth Israel will remain fully independent, with their own executive leadership, boards of trustees and philanthropic operations. The new hospital would operate under the Dana-Farber license in Beth Israel’s Longwood Medical Area campus. Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians, the physician group affiliated with Beth Israel, will provide oncology care and other expertise. 

Mass General Brigham executives were reportedly surprised by the news. 

“While this development is surprising and disappointing, nothing will change in our continuum of outstanding cancer care to patients,” President and CEO of Mass General Brigham Anne Klibanski wrote in an internal memo obtained by Boston Business Journal

Brigham and Dana-Farber had been working on finalizing a multiyear contract extension, which included discussions about building a new hospital, The Boston Globe reported. 

In its announcement, Dana-Farber touted the new hospital as a state-of-the-art facility that will increase patient capacity and make it easier to incorporate research innovations into daily care. 

Brigham and Women’s has provided Dana-Farber’s inpatient oncology care since the mid-’90s. That will not change in the short term, as it will take several years for Dana-Farber and Beth Israel to secure the necessary regulatory approvals and construct the new facility. 

“Dana-Farber’s current affiliation with Brigham and Women’s Hospital for inpatient and surgical care, long-renowned for its positive outcomes and high-quality patient care, will continue through the transition,” Dana-Farber said in a statement. 

Last year, the Globe reported that Brigham and MGH were increasingly integrating. MGH operates its own oncology treatment center. Chief Executive of Dana-Farber Laurie Glimcher told the Globe that this week’s news was not related to Brigham’s growing relationship with one of its competitors. 

“Our collaboration is solely driven by a desire to offer patients something that doesn’t currently exist in this market,” she told the Globe

The cancer programs at MGH and Brigham have not been integrated. 

“The Brigham has always protected its special relationship with Dana-Farber with a stringent firewall policy for all matters regarding cancer care,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Boston Business Journal

Outpatient oncology care at existing Dana-Farber regional campuses will not be interrupted, and the institute’s existing partnership for pediatric cancer care with Boston Children’s Hospital will not change.