By Lindsay Carey
The Community Committee to Save Bradley (CCSB) held its first meeting, where leaders Rosemary Champagne and Bonnie Sica presented their plans for the committee to a room filled with residents.
The CCSB will be made up of five sub committees: attendance, publicity, awareness, petition and legal facts.
The attendance subcommittee is responsible for maintaining a presence at public town meetings, to make sure the hospital remains a topic of discussion for community leaders.
“We would like to have around eight to 10 people at every Town Council meeting,” said Sica.
The publicity subcommittee will be contacting the press and sharing information on social media. The awareness subcommittee will be handing out flyers as well as calling businesses and friends in town to inform them about this issue.
The petition subcommittee is going to go out into the community and collect more signatures from residents.
The legal and facts committee will work on collecting data regarding the hospital and Hartford HealthCare.
Sica introduced two phases of their plan. The first phase is to prepare a legal case to fight Hartford HealthCare at the state level when they apply for the Certificate of Need to close the hospital. Sica requested a few things from the entire committee that she believes will help.
After receiving advice from the director of the State Department of Health, Sica said that she heard that collecting letters “holds tremendous weight” in court. Champagne and Sica provided the committee with memo headings and asked everyone at the meeting to hand write their own personal story of what the hospital means to them.
For those that just wanted to sign a letter in support, Champagne wrote a sample letter that only required a signature.
She also requested monetary donations for ink for paper work, like petitions and letters as well as some lawn signs that each person would be able to put in front of their home with the name of the Committee and the website http://savebradley.wix.com/help.
State Rep. Dave Zoni, who attended the meeting, offered to print all of the lawn signs for free, through his company Priority Graphics, LLC, a digital graphic design and printing business.
Sica also said that the group would have to focus on stopping Hartford HealthCare from building and opening the urgent care facility on Queen Street.
She said that the Committee will be able to use the fact that Hartford HealthCare already owns an “identical” urgent care facility in Bristol, which Sica estimated is probably less than three miles from the one that the company is planning to build in Southington.
The group is also considering hiring a lawyer to present their case.
The second phase of the plan is to create different plan to present to Hartford Healthcare.
Sica has begun the plan based on some things the group is not willing to budge on, which is to have 42 in patient beds, a fully functioning Emergency Room (ER), full radiology with a cat scan and MRI, a full lab staffed by certified technicians, a recalled staff to rehire the people who lost their jobs when departments were cut, a pharmacy, a cafeteria, and special procedures outpatient unit.
Sica said that she has looked at the floor designs of Bradley in addition to other hospitals in the area in order to come up with this plan. However, she is looking for help within the committee from doctors, nurses and business people who have worked in healthcare on all the intricacies of the plan to make sure it is medically and financially feasible.
Above all of the jobs that the residents in this committee have signed up for, Champagne said that the most important job is to remember that it’s still possible to save Bradley.
“Keep positive, that’s your job,” said Champagne.
Champagne and Sica both said that they have been discouraged to fight Hartford HealthCare by some members of the community who think they will never be able to fight a corporation and win.
“We have to work together, we can’t give up,” said Champagne. “Maybe it is a lost cause, but if it is a lost cause at least we can say we tried.”
Town Councilors Dawn Miceli, Cherly Lounsbury and Victoria Triano attended the meeting.
Triano suggested that the Hartford HealthCare’s recent statement, which says that they are listening and have halted the CON, is a good sign because it was public and it will hold the corporation accountable.
“This is a step and I don’t want to do anything to close that door,” said Triano. “We want to listen and we want to be in a position to be heard by the hospital.”
However, in response Sica addressed her issues with the committee that Hartford Healthcare assembled.
“Why do we look at a corporation or a government and think of it as more powerful than we are?” said Sica. “It’s not. We are the customer and the customer is always right. They need to not just listen to the people that are in power. They need to listen to the residents.”
By Lindsay Carey