By Lisa Capobianco
Representatives from Bradley Memorial Hospital have reassured town officials that the hospital will remain in use, despite the recent announcement of the desire to close the inpatient unit.
In a memo sent to all employees of the hospital last week, Hartford Healthcare Senior Vice President Lucille Janatka said the Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) considers pursuing a Certificate of Need to offer alternative uses for the inpatient unit, citing a consistent decrease in inpatient consensus.
Janatka stated in the memo that the certificate of need must receive state approval, a process that could take up to a year. Until then, the Bradley campus will continue to offer staffing and support for up to 15 inpatients, according to the memo.
The emergency department will remain open, according to hospital officials.
“We are assured that the building will remain alive and well, just with a different form,” said Cheryl Lounsbury, vice chair of the Town Council, adding that the hospital will morph into a different type of facility.
Lounsbury and Town Manager Garry Brumback recently met with hospital officials. Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio has also been in contact over the last few months.
Lounsbury said the inpatient facility is just not financially workable at this time and that the hospital will morph into something else. She said hospital officials are looking to turn Bradley into a specialized unit, such as ear, nose, throat, geriatrics or another such area. However, no final decision has been made.
“The inpatient [facility] is not getting much use,” Lounsbury said, noting that less than a handful of people are staying in the hospital at any given time. “It’s not sustainable financially.”
Lounsbury said people can still utilize inpatient facilities at New Britain, Midstate and Waterbury (all part of the Hospital of Central CT umbrella). Two years ago HOCC joined Hartford Healthcare, which also includes Midstate, Hartford and Windham hospitals. Bradley merged with the Hospital of New Britain to form the Hospital of Central Connecticut in 2006.
Lounsbury said the facility will need to undergo renovations, as it is old. She said doctors did not like operating in the operating room, as it is so old.
“I think it’s disappointing,” Brumback said. “Obviously we would like to have a fully functional hospital in town.”
Brumback said the town is pursuing its options to keep the hospital open. It may not be what it was, but it’ll be something, he said.
“We’re committed to doing what we can,” Brumback said.
According to hospital officials, there is always one qualified physician on site 24 hours a day, who operates out of the emergency department, and hospitalists also conduct rotations, with varying schedules. Additionally, there is a mid-level physician’s assistant or APRN on site 24 hours a day, and private attending M.D.s are also in and out various times of the day.
Jantka said in the memo that hospital leaders are working to see “how the facility can be used in the future to meet the community’s health care needs.”
“The community and physicians will be involved in this process,” Janatka said in the memo. “Our goal is to transition the Bradley Memorial campus to a viable and valuable healthcare resource for our community.
The change at the Bradley campus represents ongoing planning for the future, which includes a possible development of an outpatient orthopedic surgery center there, said hospital officials, in an e-mail to the Southington Observer.
Editor Ed Harris contributed to this report.