By Lindsay Carey
Many residents are worried about the future of Bradley Memorial Hospital, even though officials maintain that the hospital will remain open despite possible changes.
Rebecca Steward, media relations director the Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC), said the hospital is still “considering” pursuing a Certificate of Need in order to validate changes at the hospital. Officials have yet to go into detail about the proposed changes.
This is the same message that Hartford Healthcare Senior Vice President Lucille Janatka stated a few months ago.
Officials from the HOCC also visited a Town Council meeting as guests of Councilor Cheryl Lounsbury in 2013 to refute rumors that Bradley was closing, assuring officials that the emergency room would not close.
“We are looking at repurposing the space so it better addresses the current and future needs of the community,” said Steward, in a statement last week. “The changes directly correlate to sharp declines in patient admissions. We will continue to provide emergency department services and other outpatient services.”
The lack of detail and specifics on the potential changes is causing many residents to worry.
“I think it’s unfair that they are not being transparent,” said Jose Perez, from the Connecticut Health Care Associates. “You don’t decide the fate of a business overnight. So what’s the master plan?”
Perez, a Southington resident, said he feels like the community is being left in the dark. When the Certificate of Need comes forth, Perez hopes to intervene with the help of the public.
“Bradley is a community hospital and this is not the proper way to treat the community,” said Perez. “If they’re going to close the hospital they need to do it the right way, let the public know and tell the people where else they can go for care.”
Perez is not alone in his concerns. Some of the senior citizens in town are wondering what these changes mean for their community.
Marie Sepiol, the president of the Southington Apple Valley Chapter of the AARP, said she personally doesn’t understand why Bradley is being downsized when the town of Southington is growing.
“When Bradley opened the population in Southington was somewhere around 12,000 and we had a full service hospital,” said the AARP President. “Now Southington has a population of over 42,000 and growing and all we have is an ER.”
Sepiol said she fears that these changes will make it more difficult for senior citizens to get care and that she is troubled by the indifference towards the way this will impact seniors.
Sepiol has been a Southington resident since 1970 and was a nurse at Waterbury hospital for 23 years. She also formerly worked for the Connecticut Health Care Associates and represented employees from Bradley.
“The people employed at Bradley were qualified and capable,” said Sepiol. “Often, care is better at a small hospital. The care at Bradley was excellent and the equipment was up to date.”
She also said many of the seniors in town do not want to go to larger “urban hospitals” like New Britain General, because they are familiar with the hospital in town.
In her statement, Steward explained that patients may need to be transferred to receive different care at another hospital. However, she confirmed that Bradley Memorial will still provide, “varied outpatient services in Southington, including lab and radiology services, Sleep Disorders services and emergency care.”
Still, some people in town feel that Bradley is a small picture of what it used to be.
“Bradley was the gem of Southington,” said Perez.