By SHERIDAN CYR
Handwritten signs were waved through the air on the side of Queen Street in front of Hartford Health Care medical center, with messages reading “Beep 4 Bradley” and “Save our hospital” midmorning on Saturday, June 30. For the Community Committee to Save Bradley (CCSB), the fight continues as they try to preserve the hospital that was donated to the town in 1938 by Julia Bradley.
Back in 2012, HHC bought Bradley Hospital, and it became the Hospital of Central Connecticut at Bradley Memorial Campus. Bradley was able to maintain the emergency room at its facility, but when HHC opened a medical center on Queen Street, discussions ensued of moving the emergency room to the new medical center.
HHC on Queen Street is owned by CASLE Corporation. According to Bonnie Sica, one of the founding members of the, CASLE president David Sessions made a stipulation on the building with the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission that would require HHC to have to go before the PZC and the Town Council in order to build an emergency room.
Town officials have expressed in various meetings that they will support Bradley and do their best to keep the emergency room there.
“The Town Council is with us. They’ve said specifically to [HHC] that they will only accept a medical facility, not an emergency room,” said Sica during the protest. “What we’re doing here today is spreading awareness. As you can see, even though people feel uncomfortable coming out to do something like this and standing up to such a big organization, we’re getting hundreds of beeps right now, because people in town really want this.”
Sica said there is no official plan out there for what HHC would do with the Bradley campus if the emergency room was moved to Queen Street, but said there has been discussion of ripping it down, turning it into a park, selling the space and other options. However, at the June 11 Town Council meeting, chair Chris Palmieri (D) said they would only accept a medical facility at that property.
“Micro-hospitals are the up-and-coming trend,” Sica said, referencing an article in AARP magazine. “That’s what Bradley is. This is the wave of the future, and unfortunately, [HHC is] saying it’s not. They’re saying to close the smaller hospitals and build urgent cares and standalone emergency rooms.”
One member of CCSB, Cheryl Pasek, used to work for Hartford Hospital in the early 90s. She also previously owned a medical building in town.
“I’ve seen the transition over the years – the smaller hospitals being gobbled up by larger entities,” she said. “Hartford Health Care is another monopoly.”
Pasek also pointed out the heavy traffic on Queen Street makes the location unfit for an emergency room.
Gary Havican, president at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, said the company wants what is best for the town.
“Hartford HealthCare is focused on continuing to bring world-class healthcare to the people of Southington,” said Havican. “As the town’s major employer and key service provider, we are in discussions with town leaders to make the right decisions for the community.”
He added no decision has been made regarding the Bradley campus.
The protest cleared by noon. Coverage of the subject will continue in next week’s edition of the Southington Observer.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.