Community activists who are desperately trying to preserve inpatient care at Winsted (Conn.) Memorial Hospital vowed to challenge last week's decision by the hospital's board of directors to enter negotiations with Hartford (Conn.) Hospital.
Voting 12-4, the board agreed to pursue talks leading to an affiliation or merger with Hartford's largest tertiary-care provider. Community activists favored a competing proposal from Hartford's other major tertiary-care provider-Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.
Winsted Memorial's board liked Hartford Hospital's approach because it called for creating a regional system involving physicians and hospitals, said Herbert Isaacson, board chairman and a partner in the law firm of Levy & Droney in Farmington, Conn. The system would include Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, about 11 miles from Winsted and a partner of Hartford Hospital.
Hartford Hospital and Charlotte Hungerford jointly submitted a proposal for restructuring Winsted Memorial, which now serves no more than 11 patients a day, Isaacson said. Hartford Hospital also said it will assist in securing
$5 million to $7 million in debt capital.
Winsted Memorial's medical staff and emergency room workers also supported the proposal because they admit many tertiary-care cases to Hartford Hospital and rely on its clinical expertise for consultations, he said.
"Saint Francis, on the other hand, was looking for an entry into the region so they could compete with Hartford Hospital," Isaacson said. "I think the board was uncomfortable with that."
The Code Blue Committee, a community organization created to save the hospital from shuttering acute-care operations, backed Saint Francis' proposal because it envisioned maintaining inpatient beds as part of a comprehensive plan to ensure long-term viability. It also committed to investing $5 million for the development of new services.
Charlene LaVoie, the community's lawyer, said the decision to ally with Hartford Hospital "moves us toward an unhealthy, noncompetitive healthcare monopoly in the northwest corner (of the state)." There's no motivation for Hartford to preserve acute-care beds in Winsted, she said.