Citing mounting losses, Winsted (Conn.) Memorial Hospital's board of directors voted last week to close inpatient services by Sept. 30.
The hospital has been the subject of an intense local debate, with activists mounting a vocal campaign to continue acute-care services.
The board said it would file a letter of intent with Connecticut's Office of Health Care Access to discontinue acute-care beds. It also plans to formally apply for a state demonstration enabling Winsted to shed acute-care beds while maintaining 24-hour emergency service, providing outpatient services and adding a range of post-acute-care services, from skilled nursing to assisted living.
Ending acute-care services will affect about 62 employees, executives said. The total number of people currently employed by the hospital wasn't available. Winsted will spend an estimated $700,000 in severance, a spokeswoman said.
Board Chairman Herbert Isaacson said it's "financially irresponsible" to continue pouring money into acute-care operations. Currently, the hospital is losing more than $500,000 a month, up from $250,000 a month earlier this year, and the average census has dropped to 9.5 patients per day.
In late April, Winsted's board said it no longer could survive as an acute-care hospital and began taking steps for converting the existing facility to serve post-acute-care patients. It later issued a request for proposals seeking an affiliate or merger partner (July 29, p. 14). The board expects to conclude negotiations with Hartford (Conn.) Hospital by late September.
But community activists have other plans. The Code Blue Committee, a grass-roots group led by community lawyer Charlene LaVoie, intends to file incorporation papers with the secretary of state for a "community trust." If the not-for-profit corporation were approved, it would petition for a transfer of the hospital's acute-care license and seek to remove the current board of directors, LaVoie said.
LaVoie said she isn't aware of any similar transfer of a not-for-profit acute-care license to a not-for-profit community trust.
Although Winsted's board is aware of Code Blue's intentions, it's proceeding with its own reform proposal, a spokeswoman said.